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Whisky Collection Bar > D

March 2016
The Dornoch Distillery Company has launched its own crowdfunding campaign to raise enough capital to begin converting a 135-year-old fire station into a distillery.

Simon and Phil Thompson plan to transform the Old Fire Station in Dornoch into a traditional Scotch whisky distillery.
Phil and Simon Thompson, directors of the family-owned Dornoch Castle Hotel in Sutherland, Highlands, intend to build a traditional, organic microdistillery within the Old Fire Station at the hotel.

The project has already received planning permission from Highland Council and work to transform the building is due to start imminently.

The brothers are using the platform to generate funding without resorting to bank loans or private equity, and provided there are no regulatory or build delays, expect the distillery to be operational by August 2016.

As part of the crowd funding campaign the Dornoch Distillery Company is offering five different levels of investment.

Investors that donate a minimum of £50 will be given a bottle of first release gin, an official Dornoch distillery t-shirt and be eligible for special offers exclusive to founders.

Those investing £2,000 – the top funding tier available – will get a Dornoch distillery octave cask (50 litres), a cask owner hoodie, a bottle of 5-year-old Dornoch single cask malt whisky, a bottle of the distillery’s first single malt at cask strength, and an opportunity to join the distillery’s experimental tasting panel, as well as other benefits.

Just 100 of the top-tier investment option, which includes an octave cask, will be made available.

Phil Thompson said: ‘We are looking for people to help us and support us with this project. It’s been a pretty heavy past 12 months, but we’re at a point where we’re ready to go.

‘We’ve put our own flat on the market and our own finances into this project. We are looking for people who genuinely feel passionate about old style whisky and also spirits who want to be involved in this project from the early stage.’

Once operational, Dornoch distillery will produce a traditional style of malt spirit made using heritage varieties of organic floor malted barley, brewers’ yeast, long fermentations in wooden washbacks made from oak, and direct-fired pot stills.

An additional 2,000-litre pot and column still will also be used to produce gin and white spirits using organic cereals and botanicals.

Simon Thompson said: ‘We’re trying to make a style of whisky which has long been extinct; a style that hasn’t existed since the 70s and before.

‘We’ve been looking at what we consider to be some of the best whiskies ever made, especially in the ‘60s, ‘50s, ‘40s, ‘30s, and attempting to not quite reverse engineer, but understand the principles of production that created those ranges of flavours. We think that’s something that can be achieved again.’

Dornoch single malt whisky will be matured in organic ex-Bourbon, rye and Sherry casks, and bottled at either cask strength or 46% abv without chill filtration or added caramel colour.

The distillery has the capacity to produce just 37,000 bottles of cask strength whisky per year.

August 2018
Dornoch distillery has launched a second crowdfunding campaign to finance a move to new, larger premises.

Dornoch has outgrown its current home in a 19th-century fire station
The Highland whisky and gin distillery intends to move its operations to the site of an old slaters’ yard located only 200 metres away from its current home in a former 135-year-old fire station in the grounds of the Dornoch Castle Hotel in Sutherland.

The move will enable the distillery to increase production of its single malt whisky and Thompson Brother’s Organic Highland Gin, as well as provide space for a new on-site shop and tasting room.

Phil Thompson, co-owner of Dornoch distillery, said: ‘We never anticipated just how much demand there would be. The expansion means we can meet that demand while still maintaining our ruthless dedication to old-style production methods and quality levels.’

Dornoch distillery creates a style of whisky that imitates the ‘distillate character, mouthfeel and tropical fruits’ of those made prior to the 1960s.

Simon Thompson, co-founder, said: ‘No one else is making this style of whisky any more, so we wanted to push the envelope and see if we could create a whisky which harks back to these extinct Scotch whisky characteristics.’

The new, larger distillery will be situated just 200 metres away from the existing site

The campaign is offering backers the chance to purchase one of 250 casks of maturing spirit by way of contribution:

A £2,000 contribution will net the backer an ex-Bourbon Octave cask, of which 180 are available.
A £2,400 contribution will get a 50-litre American oak oloroso Sherry-seasoned cask, of which 20 are available.
A £4,000 contribution will provide a 100-litre ex-Bourbon cask, of which 30 are available.
A £4,500 contribution will net the backer a 100-litre ex-Bourbon cask seasoned with oloroso Sherry, of which 20 are available.

The Thompson brothers launched their first crowdfunding campaign in March 2016, which financed the convertion of the disused fire station into a distillery.

Dornoch laid down its first casks of spirit in February 2017, before switching focus to produce its first batches of ‘experimental’ gin.

Work on the new site is expected to begin in October 2018.
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