Dumfries and Galloway Council has approved plans for a single malt whisky distillery to be built in Moffat. 

Set to be the town’s first legal Scotch distillery,  construction of the as-yet-unnamed spirits production site will begin later this year, with owners Dark Sky Spirits – the firm behind The Moffat blended malt – hoping to commence distillation in 2021.

Once operational, the distillery, which will also feature a visitor centre, will initially be capable of producing 60,000 litres of alcohol a year – enough to fill around one barrel per day.

The project will create a dozen jobs across production and visitor centre roles, with an estimated 9,000 visitors anticipated in its first year of opening.

Historically a world-famous spa town often frequented by the poet Robert Burns, the picturesque town of Moffat is perhaps best known today for its attractive countryside walks and eponymous toffee.

Nick Bullard, founder and managing director of Dark Sky Spirits, said the new craft whisky distillery will benefit the area with additional tourism. Adding that the increasing popularity of whisky tourism saw a record 2 million people visit a Scotch whisky distillery in 2018.

He said: “Even though it’s small, this distillery will make a big difference to our town and our region.

“It will attract visitors, bring new jobs and boost retail and hospitality trade. It will broaden and deepen Moffat’s attractiveness to whisky lovers around the world.”

David Mundell, MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, said: “I’m always pleased to see new businesses setting up and providing employment opportunities.

“As a resident of Moffat myself, I’ve watched the progress of Dark Sky Spirits and their plans with interest. The whisky industry is already important in my constituency and to Scotland as a whole. I’m sure Dark Sky will prove an asset to the town, widening the visitor offering further.”

The new Dark Sky Spirits venture will join the growing number of whisky, gin and rum distilleries operating in the Dumfries and Galloway region, which includes Annandale, Bladnoch, Crafty, Dalton and Ninefold.

Mr Bullard explained that the new distillery will use traditional methods to craft single malt whisky in small batches, using wooden washbacks and worm tub condensers to create a medium-bodied Scotch with “notes of biscuit and citrus”.

Tours will be offered to small groups of visitors, offering a glimpse of the entire whisky-making process from milling and mashing through to distillation, barrel-filling, bottling and labelling, as well as the chance to sample a range of whiskies, including The Moffat blended malt, with bottles available to purchase in a small shop.

He added: “This is a huge moment, not only for Moffat but also for our whole region. Now that our plans are approved – and with SoSEP’s valuable help – we can add another attraction to Moffat.

“It’s one more reason to see Dumfries and Galloway as a destination in its own right. We’re incredibly grateful to our tireless local team and our supportive and encouraging community.”

The approval comes just days after Dark Sky Spirits was awarded £320,000 in funding from the South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SOSEP), an agency established to drive economic growth in the region.

The distillery is one of three enterprise projects to benefit from SOSEP’s latest round of funding – £143,600 was awarded to a project that aims to enhance social enterprises in the Dumfries and Galloway area, and £39,500 to the Midsteeple Quarter project in Dumfries, which aims to refurbish underused and neglected High Street buildings as contemporary living, working and learning spaces.

Business minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Working with SOSEP, the Scottish Government is making significant and targeted investments in the south of Scotland to help the region achieve its full economic potential.

“These three great projects will create new jobs, attract more visitors to the area, and make Dumfries and Galloway an even more attractive place to live.

“The work of SOSEP, the region’s new enterprise body, and the £85 million we are investing in the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, underline our commitment to continuing to deliver for the south of Scotland.”

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About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-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 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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