135-year-old Dornoch fire station set to become Scotland's smallest distillery

A 135-year-old fire station is to produce firewater after its new owners decided to open a whisky distillery.

Published 15th Apr 2016
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

Dornoch fire station in the Highlands was built in 1881 and served for decades as a base for the seven-man fire crew for the local community.

The one-storey stone shed was long ago replaced by a modern fire station serving the area but now two brothers are giving it a new lease of life.

Picture: Dornoch Distillery/Facebook

Picture: Dornoch Distillery/Facebook

Simon and Philip Thompson have raised more than £70,000 so far for the project, with investors coming aboard from as far afield as Australia, Hong Kong and the USA.

They have also received funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise for the equipment needed to kickstart the project.

But they are also crowdfunding the project - accepting donations as small as £50 to convert the station and install the myriad equipment required to turn water into whisky.

In return investors will be rewarded with casks from the distillery, and dibs on the first bottles to be produced in the station.

The fire station is in the grounds of the Dornoch Castle Hotel - the family run business which was bought in 2000.

The brothers originally considered turning it into a spa or a house, but eventually decided that it would be the perfect location for their distillery.

The idea of producing their own whisky was originally planted in their minds three years ago - as the family hotel already has a reputation in the area for its outstanding collection of whiskies.

The pair plan to make gin and white spirit in the stills, before graduating to whisky as they become more experienced.

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The brothers initially plan to work in the distillery themselves, before hiring staff to work on their behalf.

Philip, 29, said: “We have always been vocal about what other people do so we thought why not give it a go ourselves?

“We are selling our own properties so my brother and I are really throwing ourselves into the deep end with this.

“We really believe in what we are doing.”

The pair plan to create whiskies which hark back to those made in the 50s and 60s.

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Philip added: “After talking to older guys in the distilling world you start to realise so many facets have changed and we want to try to create an older style.

“That may be more inefficient but we want to create something full of flavour.”

The fire station is only 10m by 4m, meaning that it could claim the title of the smallest distillery in the country.

The current title belongs to the Strathearn Distillery in Perthshire.

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