A disused hotel on a tiny Hebridean island with no pub could be turned into a distillery and visitor centre.
Edinburgh-based R&B Distillers Ltd wants to convert Borodale House – formerly The Isle of Raasay Hotel – on Raasay into small distillery producing batched runs of whisky for a niche market.
The property, which was built as a detached villa in the 1870s sits above the main road from the pier to Inverarish.
It was significantly altered and extended in the early 1980s to provide hotel accommodation and was in constant use until January 2013.
For the past five years of this period it was operated by Raasay Outdoor Centre while Raasay House was being renovated. Since then, it has been unoccupied.
The company appointed Raasay-based ABIR Architects to undertake a feasibility study for the project.
It also made a pre-application approach to Highland Council asking whether it would need to submit an environmental assessment for the project, but council officers said this would not be required.
In the feasibility report, Olli Blair, of ABIR Architects states: “The Raasay distillery will be a sister facility to a separate distillery in Walkerburn in the Borders.
“The Walkerburn facility will house the grist mill and malted barley will be milled there and transported in 1 tonne bags to Raasay.
“The Raasay distillery is to be seen as ‘a leading distiller of niche whiskies’ with batch production and whisky bar selling an extensive range of batch whiskies.”
He explains that the existing house would be used to provide “high end accommodation” similar to the new Harris Distillery.
Mr Blair says: “The 1980s accommodation wing to the north of the house will be separated from the original house and either converted and extended to form the new production facility or demolished and rebuilt, dependant on cost.
“This will incorporate an element of ‘theatre’, with the stills displayed and illuminated so as to be visible to passing traffic and, at a distance, from approaching ferry passengers.”
The production facility would use three 220 gallon Hoga copper stills. Whisky would be distilled in 6.5 – 8.7 gallon casks with product available in three to four years.
And the visitor centre would highlight the rich geology of the island.