Planned whisky distillery at John O’Groats secures planning permission and funding

Kerry and Derek Campbell plan to build Scotland’s northernmost mainland whisky distillery


After the official building permit was granted in early March 2020, construction of the northernmost distillery on mainland Scotland can begin in the summer: the couple Kerry and Derek Campbell wants to build a micro-distillery with visitor center and warehouse near John O’Groats.

Traditional whisky production planned

The disused plot is around 32,670 square foot in size, and the Campbells have chosen it for their planned project near the northernmost end of mainland Scotland. An approved £198,000 funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise HIE will help make the dream of having their own whisky distillery come true. The distillery and visitor center will be located in one building. With the completion of the distillery in 2021, up to 60,000 liters of whisky per year are to be produced in a traditional whisky making process using two pot stills; maturation will happen in a dunnage warehouse on site.

It will be the first whisky distillery in John O 'Groats since 1837, reports a press release that also underlines the important impact of the project on the region: In addition to the creation of six new jobs, the expected influence of the new visitor distillery on the tourism is highly welcomed.

Supporting tourism in the region

Keith Muir, HIE’s head of business growth for Caithness and Sutherland, commented on the funds made available as follows: “Tourism and food and drink are two key industries in Caithness, and this project features both. As well as producing a brand-new whisky, it will enhance the area’s wider visitor offering, notably around the North Coast 500. All of this encourages visitors to stay in the area longer, which benefits all local businesses and communities. We particularly welcome the improvement it will make to the look and feel of the John O’Groats end of the road attraction, in bringing a long disused site back into productive use. We are very pleased to support this venture and look forward to seeing it taking shape.”

When the planned distillery goes into operation, it will take over Wolfburn's title "Northernmost distillery on mainland Scotland"; the whisky distillery in Thurso has been producing single malt whisky such as Northland, Aurora and Morven since 2013.

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