A new Moray whisky distillery was given the royal seal of approval when it was officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay yesterday.
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla stopped by the Ballindalloch distillery along the River Spey to celebrate the newest addition to the area’s rich whisky industry.
The Duke and Duchess, who last month marked their tenth wedding anniversary, showed no signs of anxiety over the imminent birth of their second grandchild as they enjoyed a leisurely stroll around the premises chatting with staff.
The Duke commended the “splendid new distillery” in a speech before unveiling a plaque declaring the business open.
He said: “Speyside has such a great tradition of distilleries, and I was very much hoping to taste a tiny bit of Ballindalloch.
“But I’ll have to wait another ten years for it, by which time I will be 76 and probably on a zimmer frame.
“This building is a great tribute to the skilled craftsmen in the area.”
While being guided around the site the Duke and Duchess were presented with a cask in each of their honours, both of which will be held to mature in the warehouse until the couple’s 20th wedding anniversary.
The casks are estimated to contain 300 bottles worth of malt, and the drink within will be sold to raise money for charities once it has matured.
It fell to the Duke and Duchess to hammer in the seal on each cask, using hefty wooden mallets.
As he weilded the implement the Duke joked: “Should I need a license to use this?” before advising his bride to give the seal a “jolly good whack”.
Unfortunately the more ladylike Duchess was unable to hammer the cork in with quite the same strength as her husband, and the Duke wedged the seal in her cask with a few final strikes.
On their arrival at Ballindalloch Distillery the Duchess was presented with a simple posy of flowers by seven-year-old Iona Macpherson-Grant, which her Royal Highness accepted with a smile.
Both were dressed in traditional Scottish garb, with the Dutchess sporting a tweed suit by Roy Allen with Lord of the Isles tartan trim.
The Duke was wearing a Hunting Stewart kilt.
Buckie Boys Brigade’s brass band were on hand to sound in the royal couple’s entrance at Ballindalloch and also played as they left the grounds.
As they entered the distillery the pair stopped to greet Ballindalloch staff and members of the Boys Brigade.
Brigade leader Alan McIntosh said: “Charles was very impressed with the group, I told him about us being one of the biggest Boys Brigade troops in the UK.”
The Duke and Duchess then met with the local contractors who worked on transforming what was a dilapidated steadings into the state of the art distillery.
When meeting with a group of stonemasons the Duke was heard to joke: “You must have been very busy.”
Clearly in a jovial mood, the Prince of Wales also shared a laugh with the painters from Henderson’s Decorating in Elgin.
The firm’s Chris Henderson said: “It was a real pleasure meeting the Duke, he commented that the paining was of a high standard.”
The royal duo looked on with interest as distillery manager Brian Robertson showed them around the brewing plant, taking them through the warm vats and explaining the brewing process.
Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire Lady Claire Russell and husband Oliver Russell own the Ballindalloch estate and set up the distillery as a family business with the assistance of their sons Guy and Edward.
Ballindalloch Distillery’s Guy Macpherson-Grant said: “It makes you proud to be British, having the Duke and Duchess open the distillery is a tremendous honour.”
Also during yesterday morning’s tour of the area the Duke and Duchess visited Walker’s shortbread factory in Aberlour.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said: “Whisky and shortbread are two iconic Speyside brands and it’s great that they continue to aid the local economy.”
“I welcome the fact that so many local businesses were involved with building the distillery.”
“It was very heartening to see the Scottish government give 1.2m in grants to help create the Ballindalloch distillery.”