A Scottish Government minister is poised to intervene in order to rekindle hopes of bringing a historic Moray distillery back to life.
No whisky has been produced at Dallas Dhu, near Rafford, since former owners Scottish Malt Distillers closed the premises.
The distillery has been a tourist attraction for nearly 20 years after current owners Diageo allowed the site to be opened to showcase historic ways of making malt.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead has been pressing for the picturesque premises to produce whisky once again for the last two years.
Historic Environment Scotland, who manage the attraction, had pledged to develop a plan for Dallas Dhu’s future before the end of last year.
Last night, the heritage agency was unable to provide details of proposals but stressed “constructive” talks had taken place.
Now Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has vowed to get involved and hold talks with heritage bosses to come up with “innovative ways” of showcasing the area’s industrial heritage.
Mr Lochhead said: “Dallas Dhu is wonderfully unique in that it’s Scotland’s only historic distillery and it’s a site that has a huge amount of potential – not only to restart production but to play wider roles in the sector.
“Indeed, I have had exciting and creative ideas suggested by very serious players in the industry and they deserve to be explored.
“Following a meeting with Historic Environment Scotland last summer, I was given assurances a plan would be put in place for the distillery’s future.
“I’ve urged ministers to make this year the year that Dallas Dhu finally gets to open a new and exciting chapter in its story.”
Nearly 10,000 tourists visit the distillery near Forres every year to learn about the history of making malt whisky.
Feasibility studies have already been done and have concluded that it is possible to resume production there.
A Historic Environment Scotland spokesman said: “Discussions have taken place with a number of organisations regarding the future of Dallas Dhu. These have been constructive as we work to develop a plan for the future of the site.
“Due to commercial sensitivities, we are unable to provide further detail at this time, but hope to be able to be able to do so in due course.”