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Scotland’s first community-owned distillery on its way to Dingwall

GlenWyvis Community Distillery directors: Left to right: Richard Lockett, Stuart Nickerson, John Fraser McKenzie, James Cameron, William Reynolds
GlenWyvis Community Distillery directors: Left to right: Richard Lockett, Stuart Nickerson, John Fraser McKenzie, James Cameron, William Reynolds

HOW much would you be willing to pay for the perfect dram?

For John Mckenzie, it’s a cool £1.5million.

If that sounds a bit harsh for a half, the seven-figure sum is actually the price to set up what is described as Scotland’s first community-owned distillery, GlenWyvis, in Dingwall.

John’s well on track to smash that amount after launching a crowd-funding initiative that has so far brought in more than £900,000.

More than 600 people have donated sums ranging from the minimum of £250 (restricted to people living locally) to a sum in excess of £50,000.

And John has unveiled an offer that’s affordable to anyone “who wants to leave their mark on the distillery”.

GlenWyvis Distillery (Alison White Photography)
GlenWyvis Distillery (Alison White Photography)

The farmer and helicopter pilot came up with the idea of bringing a distillery back to Dingwall after years of transporting tourists to Scotland’s distilleries.

Earlier this week it was revealed that just 29 of Scotland’s 118 distilleries are owned by Scottish companies and John wants to do his part to buck that trend.

He said: “We anticipate by the closing date of June 24 we’ll have 3000 shareholders, 80% of which will be in Scotland.

“We believe the distillery could have a seismic effect on the town, bringing an extra 30-35,000 visitors every year.

“It will have a bistro, a renewable energy centre and historical aspect to it, too.

“The whisky stills are ordered, the diggers are coming in July and we expect to be producing spirit by Burns Night in January.”

John, known as the Flying Farmer due to his dual jobs, is backed by an experienced board, some of whom have decades of experience in the whisky industry.

“We’ve also been receiving CVs from distillers wishing to leave the big corporations behind to work with us and feel part of something.”

The distillery will be built on a farm above Dingwall and will be 100% community owned and 100% powered by green energy.

The plot of land designated for the distillery
The plot of land designated for the distillery

John added: “It’s a great chance to be part owner of a Scottish distillery and make a social investment that will benefit the local community, too.

“We have amazing local resources and will be using only local barley from a farmers’ co-operative.”

Inspiration has come from former distilleries Ferintosh, Ben Wyvis in Dingwall and Glenskiach in Evanton.

The original Ferintosh Distillery was established by the Forbes of Culloden family in 1690 on the Black Isle, just east of Dingwall, and is one of the oldest recorded whisky distilleries in Scotland.

Yesterday John revealed a new way for people to help reach the target.

He said: “We have devised ‘The Path to the Stills’ element, where

people can pay as little as £30 to have their own name or a dedicate a name, added to the path leading up to the Stills when the distillery is built.

“It will be an incredible sight and one that will add to the historical theme we have based much of our thinking around.”


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