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Landmark moment for The Cairn as first spirit produced

14th July 2022

It was a landmark moment at the new distillery at Grantown-on-Spey as the first spirit flowed from the stills.

The Distillery and Executive Teams were joined by members of the Urquhart family, the owners of Gordon & MacPhail, for the first spirit run following completion of the commissioning phase of the distilling equipment. Ewen Mackintosh, Managing Director of Gordon & MacPhail said: “This was a very special moment - a moment to mark the efforts of all the people involved in the project over the last few years and a moment to signify the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Gordon & MacPhail as the company celebrates over 127 years of trading.”

“Later in the year, when the visitor experience is finished and the landscaping completed, we intend to invite all colleagues from Gordon & MacPhail, and the many other people who have helped us to this point to experience The Cairn Distillery for themselves ahead of opening to the public”, Ewen added.

Commenting on the new-make spirit, Mhairi Winters, Distillery Manager at The Cairn said: “Over the last weeks we have been conducting test distillations, tweaking the process to create the desired character. The result is a complex, medium to full bodied new-make spirit, with a sweet, malty base and vibrant, fresh fruit top notes.

The spirit was then transported off site for the first filling of the casks. And the iconic Cask No 1 was signed by Mhairi Winters, The Cairn Distillery Manager, Operations Director Stuart Urquhart and Keith Cruickshank, Distillery Manager at Benromach Distillery, Gordon & MacPhail’s first distillery.

But it will be a long wait for those who want to sample The Cairn for themselves as the first bottles will not be available to purchase until the mid-2030s. Sitting on the banks of the River Spey at Craggan, just outside Grantown, The Cairn is a second distillery for renowned whisky experts Gordon & MacPhail, the Moray based family firm.

Planning permission for the distillery was granted in 2019 and work started on site once COVID restrictions on construction were lifted in July 2020.

Opening to the public later this year, The Cairn Distillery has a spectacular view, looking across the River Spey towards the Cairngorms. It will offer a selection of immersive visitor experiences, whisky tastings, and carefully selected gifts. Visitors will also be able to eat @ The Gathering and experience the finest produce sourced from across Scotland. It has been designed to sit within this world class setting with features including the recently installed “green” sedum roof.

Gordon & MacPhail has built strong relationships with its local communities in Forres and Elgin and is determined to continue that approach in Grantown on Spey. The distillery will become a major tourist destination on the outskirts of the town and act as a gateway to Speyside.