A DISTILLERY “sustainably powered by the water from the River Ness” is set to open its doors later this year.

The first distillery in Inverness for almost four decades will use heat pumps within the adjoined sustainability centre that are powered by the water from the river to provide heating and hot water, and which is also distributed throughout the Glen Mhor Hotel complex.

The £6 million Uilebheist Distillery and Brewery is expected to create 40 jobs.


Under the sustainability plan, a large programme of re-development is currently being undertaken with a view to decarbonising the site’s heating and hot water systems, which will result in a large annual reduction in carbon emissions of over 250 tonnes.

The new heating system will result in the removal of over 20 gas fired individual boilers on the hotel site which will be replaced by a centralised water source heat pump.

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The system is being supported by the Scottish Government’s low carbon infrastructure transition scheme and will draw water linked to the River Ness and use naturally occurring heat contained in this water as a source for the heat pumps. The heat pumps will boost this heat in conjunction with solar generated electricity.

Named after the Scots Gaelic word for “monster”, the ethos of the project is inspired by “thousands of years of Scottish folklore aiming to connect Scotland’s ancient past with the present”.

Jon Erasmus, Uilebheist owner, said: “The very foundations of this project were born from Scottish myth and legend. We wanted to create something unique to the area, with the distillery, and brewery both powered by the famous River Ness. All water used in the processes will also be sourced from the river, meaning that when you drink Uilebheist’s liquid, you really are tasting the Highlands.”

HeraldScotland: Mr Erasmus at the distillery.Mr Erasmus at the distillery.

Mr Erasmus, also owner of Glen Mhor Hotel, added: “Creating both beer and whisky simultaneously will allow us to offer an immediate product and whilst we wait for the whisky to reach maturity, there will be an opportunity to own one of a limited number of casks of the Uilebheist Single Malt Whisky distilled in the first year of production, through our cask programme.

“Alongside exceptional beer and whisky, we aim to raise the bar when it comes to visitor experiences and hope that the project will lead the way for Scotland’s hospitality sector in the area. The centre will offer a range of tours and experiences ranging from site tours and sampling of our core whisky and craft beer products through to detailed master classes, blending workshops and food pairing menus.”

It is claimed the distillery, opening at the end of this year, is on track to be one of the lowest carbon distilleries in the country.

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The distillery and brewery will be headed up by Bruce Smith who has a Masters degree in Brewing and Distilling from Heriot-Watt University and spent the last decade working in the craft beer industry and ageing beer in whisky barrels.

Mr Smith said: “We are on track to officially open in November 2022 and begin beer production which visitors can enjoy in the taproom. Whisky production will commence later this year, due to our small scale we will only produce around 200 casks annually, making Uilebheist one of the rarest whiskies in Scotland.

“The whisky will be matured in ex-bourbon and sherry casks, but the whisky will let us know when it’s ready and we have no intention to rush it. Quality is our number one focus.”

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Both beer and whisky production will begin this year, and the brewery’s five core beer styles will be available to purchase in late November.

The Uilebheist Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky will be created as the core whisky product and will be released once matured, as will rare cask finishes and single cask bottlings in the years ahead.

The cask programme is described as an opportunity to own a cask of the Uilebheist Single Malt Whisky distilled in the first year of production.

Only 100 casks will be made available this year and they will be sold on a first come first served basis.