Cabrach Distillery secures £140k funding for community-led revival

Cabrach Distillery secures £140k funding for community-led revival

CGI of Cabrach Distillery

The Cabrach Distillery, a community-led social enterprise on the edge of Speyside, has received nearly £140,000 in funding from responsible finance provider Social Investment Scotland (SIS), supporting its long-term ambition to revive the local area.

The Cabrach Distillery – which is gearing up to open in late summer – will operate as a one-of-a-kind social enterprise. Registered as a community interest company (CIC), it will be the flagship asset of The Cabrach Trust, helping to breathe new life into the rural area. The remote community was once home to a thriving illicit whisky trade, a legacy which the distillery is celebrating with the production of a new Single Malt Scotch Whisky and dedicated heritage centre.

The Cabrach is an area that has suffered from significant loss and depopulation. At the turn of the 20th century, the population was around 1000 people but today it is under 100 with the trust working to safeguard the community. As well as creating a dozen local jobs, it is hoped the new distillery will attract visitors from near and far, generating income to be reinvested in its impactful regeneration plans.

The funding package of almost £140,000 from SIS, comprising both a loan and a grant, has supported the distillery with the process of setting up for the bottling of its inaugural whisky proposition, The Feering is a Speyside blended malt Scotch whisky derived from casks generously donated by The Cabrach’s distillery near neighbours. Funding will further support day to day start-up operations of the distillery, such as production and performance monitoring.

Cabrach Distillery secures £140k funding for community-led revival

As well as the distillery, the trust also runs the accessible Cabrach Discovery Trail and has recently launched a new Cabrach Tweed. Additionally, rural skills, wellbeing, and events programme are anchored from the Old Smiddy – a restored farm bothy which sits at the heart of Inverharroch Farm.

Future plans include the development of a café and heritage centre as part of the distillery site, alongside the restoration of the Old Cabrach School hall and house as the trust’s learning hub which is intended to become a beacon for experiential learning at the centre of North East Scotland.

Jonathan Christie, chief executive at The Cabrach Trust, said: “The Cabrach is renowned for its role in the birth of Scotch Whisky and completion of The Cabrach Distillery will contribute to a tale of renewal like no other.

“Our distillery will serve as the economic lungs of our community-led regeneration vision, creating much-needed permanent, skilled employment whilst attracting thousands of visitors to this special place, who will be able to discover the area’s rich history, heritage, and natural beauty.

“The support of likeminded partners such as Social Investment Scotland is invaluable. This is a bold idea, a unique social enterprise, being made possible through the sustained support of the Cabrach community, alongside an exciting blend of funding partners.”

Chris Jamieson, head of investments at Social Investment Scotland, added: “The Cabrach is filled with a rich heritage of whisky making and we’re pleased to support the trust with its overarching plans for regeneration, creating secure and skilled jobs in the area.

“By providing access to affordable finance, in this case to help the distillery prepare for production, SIS is championing local organisations and social enterprises of all sizes to deliver greater impact for the communities and people they work with.”

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