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Plans unveiled for a Shetland whisky

WHISKY could be distilled in Shetland for the first time after an industry veteran lodged plans to build a boutique distillery on Unst.

Stuart Nickerson, a former distilling director at William Grant & Sons, is aiming to develop a small distillery in the former Royal Air Force (RAF) site at Saxa Vord.

If the plans are approved by Shetland Islands Council it would be the UK's most northerly distillery, a title currently held by Highland Park at Kirkwall on Orkney.

Mr Nickerson, who has worked in the industry for more than 30 years, is in talks with Highlands and Islands Enterprise over potential grant funding.

The whisky consultant plans to begin raising funding for the project shortly, although he declined to comment on how much investment will ultimately be required.

Mr Nickerson, who ran Aberdeenshire's Glenglassaugh Distillery from 2007-08, said the prospect of building Shetland's first ever whisky distillery is a big motivation.

Mr Nickerson said: "That is certainly a major factor. There are quite a number of disadvantages, being the transport, the fact you do not get many tourists up there and the extra cost for everything.

"However the big USP without a doubt [is] being the most northerly distillery and, in fact, on Unst, the most northerly inhabited isle in the UK."

Mr Nickerson, who began his whisky career with Bell's in 1981, has inside knowledge of the site having been employed as a consultant by Blackwood to report on the area's water sources when it looked into developing a distillery in the same location several years ago. Mr Nickerson plans oversee the entire operation.

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