A pair of brothers who had previously helped to establish one of the world’s leading whisky bars and who recently launched their own gin and whisky distillery are already eyeing expansion due to the popularity of their new spirits.

Phil and Simon Thompson, who run the hugely successful whisky bar in the Dornoch Castle Hotel, constructed a distillery on site in 2016 following a successful initial crowdfunding round which saw 250 whisky lovers from all over the world invest in a bid to secure hotly anticipated casks of new make spirit from the new distillery.

After a busy, but remarkably successful 2017, which has seen the laying down of future whisky stocks and the global launch of the Thompson Brother’s Organic Highland Gin, the brothers have this week announced a second crowdfunding bid in order to secure the distillery’s long-term future at a new local site.

The pair plan to move to an old slaters yard just up the road in Dornoch in order to expand their whisky production capacity and meet the growing demand for their gin, which is now sold in eleven export markets around the globe including Japan, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Italy and Germany.

Co-founder and director Phil Thompson explained that the level of demand for their products was “humbling” and that the plans to expand would better help them to keep their growing customer base satisfied, he said: “We never anticipated just how much demand there would be, not only for casks of our whisky, but for our Organic Highland Gin as well. The expansion means we can meet that demand while still maintaining our ruthless dedication to old-style production methods and quality levels.”

This new round of crowdfunding is set for launch at the start of this month with work on the new site scheduled to begin in October 2018, and once completed will enable Dornoch Distillery to meet the demand and consolidate its presence in its existing export markets and allow it to expand further afield into new markets in 2019.

The move will entail an expansion of production capacity, a new retail space and tasting room and new jobs for the local Dornoch community. Not to mention up to 250 new private casks of Dornoch new make spirit for those fortunate enough to get in on this second round of crowdfunding.

The current site in the grounds of the castle. Picture: DD

The Thompsons stated that their vocal support of, and dedication to, traditional whisky production techniques, which has gained growing popularity amongst whisky enthusiasts, will remain at the heart of everything they do.

The fledgeling distillery utilises heritage varieties of barley, employs it’s its own in-house cultivated brewing yeast strains, ferments for over a week and distils using direct gas firing.

Dornoch Distillery

The new site. Picture: Dornoch Distillery

Co-founder and director Simon Thompson explained: “Scotch Whisky tasted notably different in the 1960s and earlier, before mass modernisation of the equipment and ingredients. The demand for this older style – more focused on distillate character, mouthfeel and tropical fruits – is massive these days.

“No one else is making this style of whisky anymore so we wanted to really push the envelope and see if we could create a whisky which harks back to these extinct Scotch Whisky characteristics.”

Dornoch Distillery

This dedication to creating quality spirits also extends to their Organic Highland Gin, as, unlike the majority of gins made today, a significant proportion of the Thompson’s signature gin is made using spirit distilled in-house.

The resulting malt-heavy style gives a richer, more characterful gin which is gaining popularity around the world and the brothers believe is putting Dornoch “on the map as a Highland distilling town”.

 

About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things whisky-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over six years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink.

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