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Highland Council grants permission for Dunnet Bay Distillers to convert Castletown historic mill into whisky distillery, café and visitor centre


By John Davidson

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How the mill could look after the project is complete.
How the mill could look after the project is complete.

A 200-year-old mill in Caithness is due to be brought back into use after permission was granted for a £4 million makeover.

Dunnet Bay Distillers plans to refurbish the historic Castletown mill to create a visitor centre and a whisky distillery.

This week the company was granted planning permission by Highland Council to convert the dilapidated listed building as part of a massive expansion of the business.

The move is expected to create 12 new jobs at the firm, which owns the multi-award-winning Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka brands.

Permission has been granted to convert the old mill at Castletown into a whisky distillery and visitor centre.
Permission has been granted to convert the old mill at Castletown into a whisky distillery and visitor centre.

Dunnet Bay Distillers, which was established in 2014, sells its products throughout Scotland, the rest of the UK and in 24 countries across the world.

It already has approved plans to erect a temporary visitor centre with a café and retail space in the surrounding land beside the mill.

The firm is operated by husband-and-wife team, Claire and Martin Murray.

Claire, co-founder and co-director of the company, said: "We are delighted that we now have planning permission to convert the old mill and thank Highland Council for its decision.

"We have been working hard with our plans and are looking forward to sharing them in the coming months. The warehouse building has already commenced work and we hope to open a temporary café and small visitor area soon."

Martin, fellow co-founder and co-director, added: "We're excited at the prospect of regenerating this fine old building which has lain empty for many years.

The redevelopment will help the company to expand its operations in Caithness.
The redevelopment will help the company to expand its operations in Caithness.
A café and visitor centre is to be included in the refurbishment of the historic mill.
A café and visitor centre is to be included in the refurbishment of the historic mill.

"The mill will become a Caithness landmark once again and its development will transform our already successful business."

The company earlier this year asked anyone with connections to the mill to get in touch to tell their personal stories about the building. The company intends to embed the story of its history into the fabric of the building as they create a new destination on the north coast of Scotland.

"We aim to make it into a local destination distillery and so the history is something we wish to remember," said Martin.

Andrea Wise, director of Organic Architects, said: "This is a rare opportunity for a thriving local business to regenerate this landmark building which has been unable to find a user for decades. The distillery will be powered by green electricity, making it one of the most sustainable distilleries in the UK industry."

The company has not yet announced when work on the redevelopment will start but says the designs will be contemporary whilst respecting the fabric and style of the old building.


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