A fight has broken out over the title of "Orkney's first new whisky maker" with the owners of two different distilleries both laying claim to the epithet.

Sebastian Hadfield-Hyde, managing director and founder of Kimbland Distillery, said he was "shocked" to read stories about the owners of Deerness Distillery saying they were to be Orkney’s first new whisky maker in more than a century.

He said his own distillery began operations on the outer island of Sanday in 2020, and is "just weeks away" from having its first whisky maturing in casks. His comments came after the owners of Deerness Distillery, husband and wife Stuart and Adelle Brown, announced at the end of last month plans for a six-figure expansion to be funded by the pre-sale of 200 casks of their inaugural release single malt.

The Herald: Adelle and Stuart Brown of Deerness DistilleryAdelle and Stuart Brown of Deerness Distillery (Image: Stewart Attwood)

Located on a peninsula to the east end of Mainland, Orkney, Deerness Distillery was set up in 2016 and has to date been known for its award-winning Sea Glass Gin. Construction on the whisky distillery is set to begin this summer, which Deerness described as "Orkney's first new whisky maker in 138 years".

Mr Hadfield-Hyde said the Deerness claims were "really bad timing" as Kimbland was preparing to launch its own equity funding campaign through Seedrs. The plan was to put aside casks after the funding round was completed, but that has been brought forward to make 50 casks available now.

“They’ve made a blunder and it’s totally wrong for them to say they are going to be the first new whisky distillery for 138 years," he said. "I was shocked and couldn’t believe what I was reading.

“It’s not like they don’t know we’re here, as I have spoken to them. It also clearly shows us on the world whisky maps, so I’m unsure why they would make such a statement."

READ MORE: Orkney: Plans for island's first new whisky distillery in 138 years

He added: “I don’t really see Deerness as competition because they’re not. Kimbland is a whisky distillery, not a gin distillery playing at whisky.”

Responding to these comments, Mr Brown said: "Deerness Distillery has been an incorporated and operational spirits distillery since 2016, with the vision for distilling whisky in place from the get-go. 

"Deerness Distillery lays claim to being the first whisky distillery in 138 years as no other producer had made this declaration to the market other than ourselves in 2018.  

"For Orkney and its people, a vibrant and active whisky industry is a hugely positive thing for the archipelago and we wish Kimbland Distillery the very best with their endeavour and look forward to getting to know them."

Mr Hadfield-Hyde added: “For the future, I’m all for pushing small Orkney brands across the world and having the two new whisky distilleries will enhance the reputation Orkney has for great produce.”