Barra Distillers has big plans for the future

A distillery business on Barra is seeing such demand for its product that it is looking at substantial expansion plans.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 7:38 pm
Updated Friday, 9th April 2021, 8:03 am
Artists impression of the new distillery building. Inset: Michael Morrison

The Isle of Barra Distilers Ltd is looking to build a new purpose-built whisky and gin distillery and visitor centre on the island.

The facility is expected to create at least 30 new jobs within the fragile Island community while also taking a green approach by ensuring that the plant is powered by renewable energy, built with sustainable materials and the company aims to develop a green travel plan to limit the number of visitors who will be driving to the site .

The plans are that the distillery will house a one-ton single malt installation and re-home the existing 300-litre gin still “Ada” with all necessary plant for bottling along with a bonded warehouse.

'Ada' the beautiful copper still.

The centre will also provide a small café/bar in addition to a visitors experience and a retail area. The estimated cost of the build is £5m, which in turn is expected to generate Whisky sales of at least £29.8m within the first 10 years.

Along with the production facilities to produce more than 300,000 bottles of single malt, the proposed visitor centre and other facilities will welcome families with children to join in and become part of the unique distillery story in Barra.

A spokesman said: “Our café/bar will focus on local produce; from freshly caught local seafood and shellfish to local lamb and beef, this will be a place that will celebrate the riches that are on Barra’s doorstep.

“Our single malt will be one that has our island home at its very core, matured in a mix of American white oak former bourbon casks, Cabernet Sauvignon casks and Oloroso Sherry cask, that will provide a unique signature flavour from Barra Distillery.“Distilled on the edge of the Atlantic and matured with the salt in the air, our Barra single malt will capture the essence of our unique home in each bottle, something that can be shared between family and friends.

The tang of the salty sea air is said to lend a unique flavour to island-produced spirits.

“For as long as we can remember and certainly since we launched Isle of Barra Distillers, we’ve consistently been asked if we produce whisky because of the name ‘Barra’ and the instant connection people make with Whisky Galore! The famous novel written by Compton Mackenzie while staying on the Isle of Barra, and the subsequent films that have followed on.

"A key point to why we feel this distillery will be a success is the vital aspect that we have had a product already on the market for three years, our award-winning Barra Atlantic Gin.

" This is a vital source of funding while running our distillery, but it is so much more than that. We have amassed a large following across social media, now close to 50,000 followers and growing.

"Our customer base has grown fourfold in the last 12 months. We currently distribute to two overseas markets with several more to follow in the coming year.

"All these factors show that we can build a brand from scratch and turn it into a hugely successful operation. The current business was produced from a standing start with very little knowledge, but we’ve grown a lot since then, in both knowledge and ability. We are now a much more experienced young business having grown our reputation, therefore can transfer all this gained knowledge into our new venture with our proposals for a new distillery for the future, one that is lean and green, and can support the island community where it was born.”

The Isle of Barra Distillers Ltd story begins only as far back as 2016, an idea about how it would be possible for the directors of the business to move back home, to the Island. The founders Katie and Michael Morrison could not just move home, they wanted and needed to start something and specifically create something important for the Island, as well as providing the family with an income. It was at that point the plans of developing and building a gin and whisky distillery began.

A limited number of investment opportunities are now available for those interested in the project.

These include, as a representative figure, one share valued at £50,000 is expected to return around £5,625 in year four, and £91,500 in year 13. Investors will also receive virtual tours and regular updates as the build progresses, along with further information from master blender Alan Winchester on the style of whisky.

In addition, investors will receive a private cask containing approximately 200 litres of spirit. As a rough estimate a cask will produce around 280 bottles of spirit if bottled at 46%abv following 10 years of maturation.

Investors will also receive private tours and tasting when visiting, and have their names inscribed on the ‘Founders Wall’ inside the building.

Remember, any investment can go up as well as down.

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