Legendary 'lost' Highland distillery takes one step closer to revival with planning permission

A famous Highland distillery has taken another step towards reopening after Highland planners granted permission to the landmark project.

Published 10th Oct 2018
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

Owners Diageo, who are behind the plans to revive Brora distillery, say work will now begin to restore the original buildings, which date back almost two centuries to 1819, bringing the site back to life as a working distillery.

• READ MORE: Biggest single investment in Scotch whisky tourism launched by Diageo

Under the plans, the distillery’s historic stillhouse will be entirely dismantled before being meticulously rebuilt stone-by-stone so that it retains its original character but is structurally capable of once more producing the finest quality spirit.

Originally known as Clynelish, production began in Brora Distillery on the north-east coast of Scotland in 1819 with the backing of the Marquess of Stafford.

In the late 1960s it was decided to expand production by building a new distillery, with the old distillery eventually being used to supply a need for heavily peated whisky for blending.

Between 1972-74 production of ‘Brora’ was in batches, becoming regular in 1975 when the distillery itself was officially renamed Brora. It was however only produced until 1983, when the distillery was closed.

Stewart Bowman, Brora Distillery project implementation manager, said: “This is a key milestone in our journey to bring Brora Distillery back into production.

“Everyone involved is raring to get going with the work to restore the beautiful distillery buildings so they can once more produce the spirit that Brora is famous for.

• READ MORE: Two of Scotland’s most famous ‘lost’ distilleries to be revived by Diageo

“We will now begin the painstaking work of bringing down and reconstructing the stillhouse with care and attention to detail so that every stone is perfect.”

Diageo first announced plans to reopen Brora Distillery, alongside fellow mothballed distillery Port Ellen on Islay, in October last year, 35 years after it closed its doors, sparking local interest from the community and from whisky lovers around the world.

Earlier this year, the team bringing Brora Distillery back to life invited the local community to be a part of its revival by sharing their memories, stories and artefacts relating to the famous Scotch distillery.

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In return, Diageo shared exclusive drawings and plans for the distillery’s construction which, where possible, will replicate the distillation regimes and spirit character of the original distillery.

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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