THE community-owned GlenWyvis distillery, which has raised more than £3 million through crowdfunding initiatives, will officially open today.

The management team has chosen St Andrew’s Day to fill the stills, following a two-year push to build a distillery which is 100 per cent powered by renewable energy.

The distillery brings whisky production back to Dingwall after almost a century.

John McKenzie, founder and managing director of GlenWyvis said he opted for the community-ownership model because it would bring benefits to more people, and help secure a legacy for the town.

“From the outset we have envisaged the project as much more than a distillery,” he said. “We recognised this was an opportunity for all social investors to help reinvigorate the town of Dingwall and build on our whisky heritage through community ownership.”

Chairman David O’Connor called it a “remarkable community project”, adding that the support has been “overwhelming” and a “testament to the enduring appeal of Scottish whisky”.

GlenWyvis launched a community share offer in 2016 and raised £2.6m from 2,200 people in just 77 days to transform a greenfield site into a new distillery.

While more than 60 per cent of investors come from the local IV postcode, and more than 70 per cent are in Scotland, investment has arrived from a total of 40 countries.

A second funding round was launched in August, having been brought forward from 2019. With a £750,000 target, it has so far raised £350,000 from 600 people.

Funds will be used to install a gin still on site and move the firm’s gin production to Dingwall next year. The company began producing gin in June 2015, with the packaging used to promote the opportunity to invest in the whisky distillery.

The botanicals come from Dingwall and the spirit is currently made on the remote island of Unst, the most northerly inhabited island in the UK.

Mr McKenzie said he hoped the distillery would bring a tourist boom to the town. “We are exploring options for distillery tours and a proposed GlenWyvis visitor experience that will help to benefit the community and develop Dingwall into a leading craft distillery town in Scotland, and a quality destination on the North Coast 500 tourist route,” he said.

To ensure the decisions about the distillery are made locally, the company’s constitution ensures nine of 12 board members are democratically elected from shareholders within the IV postcode.

The company’s annual meeting will be held today after the official opening.

The roots of GlenWyvis were sown when Mr McKenzie, a helicopter pilot, was contracted to do a number of distillery tours, and began to consider the prospect of launching a distillery.

At the same time he had helped raise £1m for a co-operatively owned wind turbine in Dingwall, for which 200 people invested £5,000. “I had in my head, maybe we could do something that would a legacy for Dingwall. Not just another distillery, but something really special,” he said.

Mr McKenzie gained the support of other people in the wider community who gained funding for feasibility studies to find the most suitable site for a community-owned distillery, which was then secured on a 175 year lease.

“We have more than 3,000 members and it is only with their support that we are ready to go into production,” said Mr McKenzie.

That production will commence shortly with the first casks expected to be laid down next month.

Duncan Tait, formerly of Diageo, was recruited as master distiller and he has a team of five staff now ready for the first run of spirit.

Mr McKenzie said: “When everyone comes together they can really do something big, and that’s what we’ve done here. We didn’t need £3m from one person, we got it from 3,000 people and they will all benefit, not just one person,” he said.