Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

First look inside The Cairn: New distillery in the Cairngorms prepares to open to the public

G&M's second distillery, The Cairn, near Grantown
G&M's second distillery, The Cairn, near Grantown, opened last year. Image: Gordon & Macphail

Sipping a dram looking out to the spectacular Cairngorms, it’s easy to see the attraction of a new distillery about to open its doors in the Highlands.

The Press and Journal has had a sneak preview of The Cairn, a £20 million project by whisky specialists Gordon & MacPhail.

The eye-catching building outside Grantown is designed to be a modern home of the ancient craft of whisky making.

Visitors are taken on a journey from 1895, when the founding family opened a grocery shop, through its evolution into distilling, to the planned releases of whisky in the 2030s.

When will the distillery be open?

Bookings are now being taken online ahead of Monday when the doors open for the public to the first new distillery built in the Cairngorms National Park for more than a century.

The Cairn is a striking structure made of stone, wood and steel.

It is topped with a sedum roof of living plants to encourage native species to fit in with its nature-rich environment.

Reforestation projects are also under way to encourage native species, including the local population of rare goldeneye ducks.

The new distillery has spectacular views to the Cairngorms

The location also gives its name to the blended malts currently available -CRN 57° (the distillery sits on 57 degrees latitude from the equator).

It is hoped eventually to build a cairn outside, a metal structure with stone inside, and a walking trail by the River Spey.

A time capsule will also be buried and re-opened in 12 years time when the distillery releases its first whisky.

Ewen Mackintosh, Gordon & MacPhail managing director, said: “After many years of preparation, planning and construction we look forward to finally opening the doors to members of the public, and in particular the local community, who have been so supportive since the project was first announced.

‘Awe-inspiring’ location in the Cairngorms

“Having secured such a beautiful and awe-inspiring location overlooking the River Spey towards the Cairngorms, we wanted to create a building which complements the majesty of the environment.

“We are delighted with the result, and we look forward to sharing it with visitors from all over the world.”

Visitors can enjoy whisky tasting in the Discovery Room

Gordon & MacPhail unveiled plans for a distillery at Craggan in 2018.

Planning permission was granted in 2019 and work started in July 2020.

Eleven apprentices were able to learn their trade on the construction site.

The company looked at eight sites before settling on the location, a prime consideration being an abundance of water, including from underground springs.

Who can take a distillery tour?

The Cairn is expected to be an attraction in its own right, forecast to bring in 30,000-35,000 people a year, providing a boost to the local economy.

At present, it will open just to those who take the tour.

Gordon & MacPhail marketing director Ian Chapman said: “The intention is to be part of the local economy, complementing existing businesses rather than being in competition.

“The Cairn is a gateway into the area. It provides a very strong welcome to visitors and signposts them to other parts of the region.

“As we were inspired by the environment, we want visitors to be inspired also.”

The building is expected to be a tourist attraction in its own right

Visitors can choose from a selection of immersive experiences, each culminating in a whisky tasting in the Discovery Room.

With floor-to-ceiling windows, the room provides a stunning backdrop for visitors as they taste the future – blended malt whiskies created to give a sense of notes, flavours and aromas that will be part of the character of single malts to be released in the 2030s.

These sherry cask-matured, un-peated expressions are being released in 70cl bottlings available exclusively to those who tour the distillery.

The oldest expression in the CRN57 range, a 70-year-old, comes in a crystal decanter and is the oldest blended malt whisky in the world.

Scottish tapas-style food is also exclusively available at The Gathering to those who take a tour.

Three tour options

Open seven days a week, year round, distillery tours start at £25, with three options available:

The Explorer (£25) includes learning about the 127-year journey to The Cairn opening, a trip around the spirit production process and a tasting of the CRN57 12 and 18-year-old blended malts.

The Adventurer (£60) like the Explorer tour, with the addition of a dram of the 25-year-old blended malt and several food dishes.

The Voyager (£350) a personally-guided tour, a taste of all six drams from the CRN57 range,  plus a range of food dishes.

Tickets for the Explorer and Adventurer experiences can be booked at The Cairn website.

For the Voyager tour email or call 01479 816543

Are you interested in more exclusive and breaking Highland and Islands news from the P&J? If so, why not join our dedicated Facebook page HERE