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New whisky distillery inspired by John O'Groats legend


By David G Scott

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A new Scotch whisky micro-distillery and visitor centre set to open in John O’Groats in 2021 has drawn inspiration from a legendary character who lent his name to the village.

The newly named 8 Doors Distillery takes its title from the story of Jan de Groot who ran a ferry to Orkney and had an eight-doored house with an eight-sided table within it.

Local couple Derek and Kerry Campbell are behind the development, gaining planning permission for a visitor centre, bonded warehouse and distillery – the first Scotch whisky distillery in John O’Groats since James Sutherland and John Gibson set one up in 1826, which operated until 1837.

The Campbells' venture will have the capacity to produce up to 60,000 litres each year and to mark their achievements so far Derek and Kerry are having a "limited edition launch offer" to buy into Scotland’s most northerly mainland Scotch distillery,

The £1 million project is a dream come true for its founders who have developed a passion for Scotch over many years.

Kerry and Derek Campbell of John O'Groats have officially announced the name of their new venture in the village as 8 Doors Distillery.
Kerry and Derek Campbell of John O'Groats have officially announced the name of their new venture in the village as 8 Doors Distillery.

Kerry said: “The creation of our 8 Doors Distillery in John O’Groats and our limited edition launch is part of a dream come true for Derek and me. We have a long-held passion for whisky and for the local area in Caithness where we both grew up. We’re so pleased to be able to bring them together with the development of our distillery and visitor centre."

She added: “We love whisky, and for us it’s more than just having an exceptional liquid in the glass. It’s the stories that go alongside it, the memories of special occasions and get-togethers with family and friends. If we can be part of creating not only a fantastic whisky but also great memories for people who drink our whisky that would be amazing."

Kerry and Derek Campbell are siting their new whisky distillery in John O'Groats.
Kerry and Derek Campbell are siting their new whisky distillery in John O'Groats.

The new Highland single malt whisky will be produced using "the purest John O’Groats’ water" extracted from a borehole on the distillery site. Its flavour profile is described as being deeply influenced by the local climate and its situation on the far north coastline lends it the strapline of "Whisky. From the Edge".

With its limited edition launch offer, 8 Doors Distillery is giving whisky lovers the opportunity to join the 874 Founders Club and 874 Club – a collaboration with whisky master John Ramsay and named after the 874 miles between Land’s End and John O’Groats.

The inspiration for the 8 Doors Distillery branding comes from the story of Jan de Groot, from whom the village of John O’Groats takes its name. Mr de Groot, a Dutchman who once plied a ferry from the Scottish mainland to Orkney, built his legendary house in the area during the reign of James IV (1488-1513). Mr de Groot’s seven descendants quarrelled about succession, so he decided to build an octagonal house with eight doors – one for him and each of his seven sons – and an eight-sided table so that nobody could sit at the head of the table.

Kerry sniffs a snifter.
Kerry sniffs a snifter.

Kerry said: “We couldn’t think of anywhere better than John O’Groats to make whisky, partly thanks to the climate which we believe is perfect for distilling and maturation, and the great people who live here.

"Since we’ve announced our plans to build the distillery we’ve had lots of local support."

The distillery on the 32,670 square feet site will have the capacity to produce up to 60,000 litres of whisky each year. The distillery and visitor centre will be housed in one large building and whisky will be matured in an on-site bonded warehouse.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise is investing up to £198,000 in the new venture. Keith Muir, the agency’s head of business growth in Caithness and Sutherland, said: “This is a fantastic development, and it is great to see a project coming forward even in these difficult times that will be of real benefit to the tourism sector and to the local community.

“We are delighted to be able to help this local young couple fulfil their dreams and wish Kerry and Derek every success.”

Anyone interested in buying exclusive 8 Doors Distillery casks or bottles should visit www.8doorsdistillery.com/874-club-memberships

There is a Facebook page and other social media links for the business as well as a dedicated website at www.8doorsdistillery.com

Raise a glass to Scrabster couple



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