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New whisky distillery planned for the isle of Raasay

A tiny Hebridean island off the coast of Skye is set to become the location of Scotland's newest distillery.

Published: May 26, 2015

The multimillion-pound Raasay Distillery and visitor experience centre will be independently owned & operated by R&B Distillers and hopes to open in January 2017, if planning permission is granted later this year.

The development would become the island's first legal distillery and is expected to generate employment for eleven of the island’s 120 residents.

The creation of a state-of-the-art visitor experience centre and luxury accommodation - which will include the restoration of the island's currently derelict Victorian hotel, Borodale House - is hoped to put Raasay on the map for whisky lovers around the globe.

Driven by a desire to make 'handcrafted whiskies of uncommon provenance', R&B Distillers hope to release the first batch of Raasay whisky by 2020 and produce up to 150,000 bottles of whisky a year thereafter.

Bill Dobbie - Scots entrepreneur and co-founder of online dating site ‘Cupid’ – and business partner Alasdair Day – who currently produces Tweeddale whisky – founded R&B Distillers in 2014.

Managing Director, Alasdair Day, shared his excitement:

“It’s incredible to think that there are still areas of Scotland completely ‘forgotten’ by whisky.

“The Isle of Raasay is one of those unique locations and the perfect home for R&B Distillers to handcraft whiskies of uncommon provenance.

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“We’re now working hard to engineer a whisky destination unlike any other. From the magnificent views over to Skye, to experiencing craft distilling first hand, we can’t wait for visitors to discover our whiskies, the island and the community here on Raasay.”

Alasdair also confirmed that the single malt produced at the distillery will be 'lightly peated' he said: "We are hoping to have a peated malt reflecting the nature of the island - probably around 15ppm - and we'll be using a mix of new oak, bourbon and wine casks for maturation."

Following a pre-planning application that was submitted to Highlands & Islands Council in January 2015, R&B Distillers are currently undertaking a protected species audit for bats, otters and the Raasay vole.

A wildlife report is expected at the end of August with a view to the full planning application being submitted by September.

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Around 12,000 people are expected to visit the Raasay Distillery in its first year, where tourists and whisky enthusiasts alike can witness the craft distilling process first hand.

A private tasting room and public café bar will offer uninterrupted views of the Cuillin mountain range while five luxury en-suite rooms in the restored Borodale House will be exclusively available to members of the Distillery’s ‘Na Tùsairean’ club; Scots Gaelic for ‘the pioneers’.

Plans are also afoot for R&B Distilers to open a distillery in the Scottish Borders; where the last whisky distillery closed over 150 years ago.

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Alasdair pointed out that his great-grandfather Richard, the inspiration for his revival of the Tweeddale blend - created using Richard's WWI-era recipe book - was based in the Borders, he said: "I'd love to see a distillery in the Tweed Valley, that would be the Holy Grail"

In September 2015, R&B Distillers hope to release ‘Raasay While We Wait’. Blended from two highland whiskies from one distillery, it is hoped the whisky will be representative of the Raasay Single Malt due for release in 2020.

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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