GlenWyvis Distillery


History: On St Andrew's day of last year a new distillery opened in Dingwall, some 90 years after the last one closed its doors. It’s no traditional distillery – it stands proudly as a piece of state-of-the-art architectural design, set on a hillside overlooking Dingwall and the Cromarty Firth; run purely on solar, hydro, wind and biomass renewables.

It’s not only the exterior that sets GlenWyvis apart, but its ethos. It’s completely community-owned after raising more than £3 million through crowdfunding initiatives. The owners chose St Andrew’s Day to fire up their stills, following a two-year build and making the distillery 100% powered by renewable energy. John McKenzie, founder and managing director of GlenWyvis, decided to follow the community-ownership model as it would bring benefits to local people, and help secure a legacy for the town.

The whole community is behind the project with 60% of investors coming from the local postcode, and more than 70% from Scotland. The additional investment has arrived from a total of 40 countries. All distillery decisions are made with the community at the centre. The company's constitution ensures that nine of 12 board members must be democratically elected from within the IV postcode.

The spirit: They have been making gin here since 2015 with plans to take all production in house this year. Goodwill Highland Gin is made using nine premium botanicals, including hand-picked hawthorn berries from a neighbouring farm. The gin’s perfect serve is a generous amount of Goodwill over ice, quality tonic water and add curl of orange peel with a sprig of bruised coriander. Like most new distilleries, the gin is made first with the whisky being the ultimate goal for the long term.

Favourite dram: The whisky here won't be ready until 2021. The whiskies will be created using only local barley and matured in bourbon, refill bourbon and sherry casks. In January last year the company released an independent bottling from different highland distilleries called Highland Inspiration. This was a limited batch of only 1,600 bottles of Highland single malt whisky, carefully selected and bottled for GlenWyvis to mark the laying of the distillery’s inaugural keystone.

Why visit? I don't believe they have opened to the public yet (but hopefully will be soon) but that’s not to say you can’t give them a phone and ask nicely to pay them a visit to see the incredible job they do. This is now one of Scotland’s most forward-thinking distilleries with an amazing story and ethos. The fact they turned a green field into a working distillery in less than a year still astounds me.

Interesting fact: They named the distillery after two lost distilleries in the area – Ben Wyvis and Glenskiach. Like many of Scotland’s lost distilleries both of these fell victim to the turbulent times during the global economic depression around the 1920s. Glenskiach was soon demolished after this but Ben Wyvis remained standing until the 1990s, when it was demolished. GlenWyvis now stands as a reminder of the area's proud distilling history.

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