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Caithness distillery launches Highland single malt whisky

By Rachel Smart

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From left: Alex MacDonald, Laura Pearce, Greg Benson and Struan Mackie. Picture: Angus Mackay
From left: Alex MacDonald, Laura Pearce, Greg Benson and Struan Mackie. Picture: Angus Mackay

A Caithness distillery has launched a new Highland single malt whisky.

Award-winning craft spirit producer North Point Distillery, near Thurso, has unveiled 'Dalclagie' Highland Single Malt Whisky.

Produced ‘where the haar from the sea meets the mist from the land’, the Dalclagie Mill and croft provide inspiration for Scotland’s newest Single Malt Whisky. A spirit shaped by the place and the people who live and work there, with the whisky carrying the motto: The People. The Place. The Whisky.

Launching the brand, co-founder Struan Mackie said: "We're incredibly proud to launch Dalclagie Single Malt Whisky.

“Having received our permissions over two years ago, the team began work on our Single Malt expression, ensuring our ethos for quality and taste was at the core of everything we do. To finally announce the Dalclagie brand and our cask programme is a proud moment for the distillery."

Greg Benson, head distiller, described the spirit as truly unique, saying: “Dalclagie is special. We have used the very best heritage barley varieties available to us, conducting extra-long fermentations using Kveik yeast, and spirit cuts that are dictated by taste, not efficiency.

“With notes of tropical fruit, tinned peaches, and pineapple; a full-bodied texture; and a croissant sweetness, our New Make Spirit is delicious before it even touches the wood. Long term, our maturation style will be influenced by hand-selected bourbon barrels, as well as Palo Cortado casks from Spain.”

This announcement comes after North Point Distillery picked up a coveted award in their local area.

The team picked up the young business award in the SME category at the Caithness Chamber of Commerce Awards, and it was an assurance for them that they are making a difference in their community.

Speaking about their win, co-founder Alex MacDonald said: “It’s a fantastic success story for us, as it’s been an interesting journey over the last three years, but one that we’ve gone from strength to strength with.

“Being recognised close to home for the work we’ve done and the young and dynamic team we have means so much and is a real boost for all of us.”

Over the past year the company has faced several challenges, including the controversial Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), the proposed alcohol advertising ban alongside internal changes.

However, it has managed to thrive within these circumstances as the team has grown to 14 members of staff, and it has increased its production capacity with a fourth still on site.

Alex said: “We have been recognised as the best craft distillery in the world, we have won sustainability awards, and we have won awards for the best gin and the best rum. But the best thing for us is that it is people focused, and our people is what makes our business function.

“A big part of our business ethos is working with the community and what they need. We try to assist individuals at risk of unemployment, provide training in schools and to sponsor our local teams as we want the talent in our area to be represented.”

Alex says it is thanks to the support and innovation of other local businesses in the area that have helped get them where they are today.

“I think there needs to be a thank you to a lot of the other distilleries in the local area that walked so we could run,” said Alex.

“Both Martin and Clare at Dunnet Bay Distillery and Kerry and Derek at 8 Doors Distillery have all been amazingly supportive. The team at Wolfburn has also been so supportive of our tourism, and we get a lot of referral business.

“Local businesses have taken a leap of faith with us and have supported our product launches and ventures, so that we are able to say we are one of the fastest growing craft distilleries in Scotland.”

He added: “Caithness Chamber of Commerce has also been an incredible support to us. We appreciate Trudy Morris and her team so much.

“They facilitate growth in an area that has historically faced challenges in the socio-economic landscape.

“The Chamber as a whole is a fantastic organisation for young businesses to engage with through activities, networking and learning programmes.

“It creates a difference for a lot of small businesses, so as a call to action I would recommend people to join it!”

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