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First legal distillery for Raasay to bring jobs for area

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Raasay is to get its first ever legal distillery after planning permission was granted by Highland Council.

Illicit distilling was once rife on the Inner Hebridean Island off Skye.

Raasay Distillery and visitor experience centre will be independently owned and operated by R&B Distillers and hopes to open in January next year.

The new distillery will be “knitted” to the Victorian Borodale House, which latterly was run as an hotel.

The creation of a state-of-the-art visitor experience centre and luxury accommodation – which will include the restoration of derelict Borodale House – is hoped to put Raasay on the map for whisky lovers around the globe.

The planning application was granted by officers under delegated powers.

R&B Distillers hopes to release the first batch of Raasay whisky by 2020 and produce up to 150,000 bottles of whisky a year thereafter.

Bill Dobbie – Scots entrepreneur and co-founder of online dating site Cupid – and business partner Alasdair Day – who currently produces Tweeddale whisky – founded R&B Distillers in 2014.

A spokeswoman for the firm said: “After months of planning, discussions with architects, meetings with the island community and talks with Raasay vole and bat specialists, planning permission has now been granted for R&B Distillers venture.

“The winters on Raasay are not conducive to building but as the Scottish proverb goes, ‘today’s rain is tomorrow’s whisky,’ and R&B Distillers are certain their new distillery will be worth the wait.

“Construction of The Isle of Raasay Distillery is set to begin in April which will see R&B Distillers whisky in production in early 2017. While the distillery is under construction, R&B Distillers have released the aptly named While We Wait single malt, a preview of the calibre and flavour of whisky yet to come. Every sip certain to transport the drinker to the rugged island of Raasay.”

Councillor Ian Renwick of the planing, development and infrastructure committee of Highland Council, who lives at Portree on Skye, said: “I totally welcome this. There are 100 people on Raasay and there is a lack of employment so anything like that is very welcome.

“I am looking forward to it opening and getting and few people into jobs. The construction work will also bring a welcome jobs boost.”

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