A distillery project seeking to safeguard a dwindling community in Speyside has secured almost £140,000 in backing as it prepares to open later this summer.

The Cabrach Distillery will be the flagship asset of The Cabrach Trust and aims to help revive the remote community which was once home to a thriving illicit whisky trade. This legacy will be marked by the production of a new single malt and the opening of a dedicated heritage centre.

The funding package of loans and grants has been provided by Social Investment Scotland (SIS), which was set up in 2001 to provide financing to charities and social enterprises. 

The money has allowed the distillery to set up for the bottling of its inaugural whisky proposition, The Feering, a Speyside blended malt derived from casks donated by neighbouring distilleries in the Moray area. The funding will also support start-up operations at the distillery, such as production and performance monitoring.

READ MORE: The Cabrach: Historic whisky, farming community celebrated

“The Cabrach is renowned for its role in the birth of Scotch whisky and completion of the Cabrach Distillery will contribute to a tale of renewal like no other," said Jonathan Christie, the trust's chief executive.

"Our distillery will serve as the economic lungs of our community-led regeneration vision, creating much-needed permanent, skilled employment whilst attracting thousands of visitors to this special place, who will be able to discover the area’s rich history, heritage, and natural beauty."

Located on the northern edge of the Cairngorms National Park, the Cabrach estate has suffered from significant depopulation. Home to approximately 1,000 people at the turn of the 20th century, the population now stands at less than 100.

Along with the distillery, which is expected to create a dozen local jobs, the trust also runs the Cabrach Discovery Trail and has recently launched a new Cabrach Tweed. Additionally, a programme of rural skills, wellbeing, and other events are anchored from the Old Smiddy, a restored farm bothy which sits at the heart of Inverharroch Farm.

READ MORE: New tweed created for Scottish area once known for whisky production

Future plans include the development of a café and heritage centre as part of the distillery site, alongside the restoration of the Old Cabrach School hall and house which will be the trust’s learning hub. 

“The Cabrach is filled with a rich heritage of whisky making and we’re pleased to support the trust with its overarching plans for regeneration, creating secure and skilled jobs in the area," SIS head of investments Chris Jamieson said.

"By providing access to affordable finance, in this case to help the distillery prepare for production, SIS is championing local organisations and social enterprises of all sizes to deliver greater impact for the communities and people they work with.”