More than 70 businesses have expressed an interest in breathing new life into a historic Moray distillery.
Dallas Dhu played a pivotal role in the history of the whisky industry in Forres, but was closed in the 1980s and is now a museum enjoyed by hundreds of visitors each year.
However, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has urged interested parties to come forward and help redevelop the site in August with a view to recommencing distilling at the historic site.
Their appeal proved very popular as HES received 74 notes of interest from various parties looking to become involved with the project.
Now, the agency are now working on six different ideas with a preferred option being possibly chosen by the end of January.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead has frequently called for the distillery to be better utilised and welcomed the news that there has been plenty of interest in redeveloping it.
He said: “I’ve been campaigning for many years for new investment in the historic Dallas Dhu Distillery to maximise the potential for tourism and to capitalise on the growing interest in Scotch whisky.
“It is very encouraging to learn that there were 74 notes on interest from various parties looking to be a partner and that Historic Environment Scotland are now working on six different ideas that have now entered what’s referred to as the exploration stage with a preferred option being chosen hopefully by the end of January. This is great news and finally at long last we are seeing progress.”
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Dallas Dhu Distillery has a long and storied history and first begun producing whisky in 1898.
It survived being shut down during the Great Depression, a fire that ravaged the building in 1939 and the Second World War before being closed for a final time in 1983.
This was due to falling demand of whisky, an excess of stock and the unreliability of the water supply there.
The site also lost its distilling license in 1992 after falling into public hands – though it remains owned by drinks giant Diageo.
James Johnstone, chairman of the Malt Whisky Trail, was also pleased to see interest in Dallas Dhu increase.
He said: “Interest in Scotch is booming with recently released figures showing record numbers of visitors, so we welcome proposals to produce whisky at this historic distillery again.
“Dallas Dhu is a popular visitor attraction with a fascinating history. Looking at opportunities to enhance its unique heritage and story would only increase its interest as one of the nine sites along our trail in stunning Speyside.”