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Consent granted for bottling plant at old mill near Castletown

By Gordon Calder

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A CAITHNESS distillery has been given the go-ahead to build a bottling hall and maturation warehousing on land beside an historic mill on the outskirts of Castletown.

The application from Dunnet Bay Distillers, which is owned and run by Martin and Claire Murray, has been given planning permission by Highland Council subject to a number of conditions relating to landscaping, noise and transport. The development – on 1.58 hectares of vacant land adjacent to the 200-year-old mill – has to get underway within three years.

The company, which produces award-winning gin and vodka, bought the mill and surrounding ground earlier this year and is considering turning it into a whisky distillery.

The bottling plant and maturation warehousing will be built on land near the old mill
The bottling plant and maturation warehousing will be built on land near the old mill

A report, which was before the councillors and was written by an agent for Dunnet Bay Distillers, described the application as “fundamental to supporting the expansion of an established local business. It also enables the ‘at risk’ mill building to be secured as part of a future phase for the business.”

It said a separate planning application for the refurbishment and re-use of the mill building is being discussed and is expected be submitted in the near future.

“The proposed bottling hall houses small scale bottling equipment and some staff facilities. The warehouse buildings will be used for maturation of whisky in traditional dunnage style.”

The bottling hall will operate with a team of six to eight people, and the warehousing will only have occasional staff presence of one to two people, said the report. The building, to the north-east of Stanergill Crescent, will have a stone clad lower section and will be dark to minimise its visual impact. There would be little potential for any nuisance from vehicle movements, it was said while the equipment used within the building would not generate significant noise. No equipment will be located externally.

No one from the company was available for comment yesterday but previously Mr Murray described the purchase of the old mill as “an exciting opportunity” and one which could create “further resources” for the expanding business as well as additional jobs. Speaking earlier in the year, he said: “Our sales and distribution reach has grown exponentially during the past year and we’re now hoping to construct a bigger warehouse to keep up with demand for our Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka.”

The firm’s gin and vodka sell strongly in the UK and are exported to around 24 countries. Dunnet Bay Distillers was formed seven years ago and has won a number of awards.The mill dates from the early 1800s but has been lying empty for many years.

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