Community-led distillery secures £140k funding ahead of opening

A COMMUNITY-LED Scots distillery has secured a nearly £140,000 funding boost ahead of its grand opening.

The Cabrach Distillery has secured the funding package from responsible finance provider Social Investment Scotland (SIS) to aid its long-term ambition to revitalise the local area.

The distillery, based in Speyside, is set to open in late summer and will operate as a unique social enterprise.

Registered as a community interest company (CIC), it is the flagship asset of The Cabrach Trust, aiming to rejuvenate the rural area by celebrating its historic illicit whisky trade with the production of a new single malt Scotch whisky and a dedicated heritage centre.

Artist's impression of The Cabrach Distillery.
The distillery aims to create a dozen local jobs, with hopes of attracting visitors from near and far.

The Cabrach has experienced significant depopulation, with its population dropping from around 1,000 at the turn of the 20th century to under 100 today.

The Trust’s efforts include creating a dozen local jobs and attracting visitors to generate income for further regeneration initiatives.

The funding from SIS, comprising both a loan and a grant, has supported the distillery’s setup for bottling its inaugural whisky, The Feering, a Speyside blended malt Scotch whisky.

The funding will also support the distillery’s daily operations, including production and performance monitoring.

In addition to the distillery, The Cabrach Trust runs the Cabrach Discovery Trail and recently launched a new Cabrach Tweed.

Other initiatives include rural skills training, wellbeing programs, and events based at the Old Smiddy, a restored farm bothy.

Future plans involve developing a café and heritage centre at the distillery site and restoring the Old Cabrach School hall as a learning hub for experiential education.

Jonathan Christie, chief executive at The Cabrach Trust, stated: “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.

“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.

“The support of likeminded partners such as Social Investment Scotland is invaluable.

“This is a bold idea, a unique social enterprise, being made possible through the sustained support of the Cabrach community, alongside an exciting blend of funding partners.”

Chris Jamieson, head of investments at Social Investment Scotland, added: “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.

“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.”

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