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Ready in a hop, skip and a jump: new micro-distillery nears completion

A new micro-distillery in Speyside which will produce and bottle its whisky on-site using ingredients grown in the area is nearing completion ahead of its launch this summer.

Ballindalloch Castle
Ballindalloch Castle

The Ballindalloch distillery is the brainchild of entrepreneur Guy Macpherson-Grant being built in the grounds of Macpherson-Grant's family home, Ballindalloch Castle, which sits alongside some world-famous distilleries.

Macpherson-Grant says: "Living in malt whisky country, I wanted to create a whisky that will remain in the family for generations to come, much like our family home. Using the water than runs through the Estate, we want to keep the classic infusions of honey, vanilla and fresh fruits that are typical of whisky produced in this area.

"The final flavours will be determined through rigorous experimentation, the casks we decide to mature our whisky in, and for how long. As an example, by aging the whisky in sherry casks, the young flavours tend to evolve to include dried fruits and sweet spice flavours.

"Given all the variables, one thing is for certain: the mature whisky will only be bottled once given final approval by my family."

The stills in which this robust, classic Speyside malt whisky is to be produced will be installed in May this year, with production planned to commence in July. Once completed, the micro-distillery will be able to produce at least 75,000 litres of single malt whisky.

It will be a true single estate distillery, meaning that everything is grown, produced, bottled and sold on-site. Visitors to the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which runs from May 1 to 5, will be able to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes preview of the distillery site.

Ballindalloch Distillery will be welcoming visitors by appointment during the popular annual Festival, which attracts thousands of visitors to the area to gather and celebrate all that is great about Scotland's national drink in its spiritual home.

This event - Ballindalloch Distillery: A Hard Hat Preview Experience - has been one of the most popular attractions at the Festival, with only a limited number of tickets remaining. Visitors will be able to enjoy a dram of Macpherson-Grant private cask Cragganmore, aged for more than 20 years, before being shown around the building site of the new distillery and discovering the elements that will go in to producing the malt.

Guy explains, "A couple of years ago, when the family were looking at strategies for the future, we came to the conclusion that there was nowhere else in the world more suited to whisky distillation than Speyside.

"As the world's leading production area, Speyside is steeped in whisky heritage, skills and experience. Using these fundamental elements, we plan to produce a product that lives up to the excellent reputation of Speyside globally.

"This, together with the natural resources available to us on the Estate, means we are able to make whisky using the traditional values of a small, family distillery, so common in the past but rarely seen today."

The Macpherson-Grant family is not unfamiliar with the workings of a distillery and the whisky business as they owned a minority stake in Cragganmore for much of the 20th century, before it was bought out by Diageo.

"It is a family decision to return to distilling and to bring together the best elements of what we have around us on Speyside to develop a Single Estate Malt," adds Guy.

 "As soon as it's finished, matured and bottled, the whisky will be available for purchase at the Castle. There's nothing more satisfying than creating your own product. Just like growing your own food, I can metaphorically sow the seeds, settle down, and watch it grow."

Visitors to the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival will experience a packed programme of over 370 events in locations around Speyside that cater for whisky enthusiasts and novices alike. It is one of the main events in the Homecoming 2014 programme and will mark the beginning of Whisky Month.

Alongside traditional whisky tastings and distillery tours, the festival will also explore some of the region's best food - including venison, steak, haggis and chocolate - and local bakers will compete in Grantown's Whisky Cake-Off. New this year is the Spirit of Speyside Sessions - a festival within the festival that boasts some fantastic traditional music acts playing in a range of locations throughout Speyside.

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