May 4, 2016
It’s an idea that cultivates new possibilities. When the idea of raising capital from within a community (or beyond) was first floated, renewable energy projects were at the forefront, offering the prospect of both a financial dividend and a feel-good return on investment. But with every passing month a new possibility seems to present itself. Harbours, farming, sports clubs, heritage and tourism, community hubs, shops and pubs and, most recently whisky distilling. Community shares seem to strengthen community bonds, every bit as much as they aim to raise project finance.
Realising its long held ambition to create Scotland’s very first community-owned craft whisky distillery. Exactly 270 years to the day after the Battle of Culloden, GlenWyvis launches its Community Share Offer to raise over £1.5m of investment that will help to put whisky distilling back at the heart of Dingwall.
The launch, organised in conjunction with Community Shares Scotland (CSS), will offer investment opportunities for as little as £250 to locals living in all IV postcode areas. This will ensure a high level of local ownership of the distillery, but the Share Offer is also open to whisky lovers worldwide with investment opportunities rising in tranches* to a maximum investment of £100,000.
Whisky has been made in Ross-shire and Inverness-shire for centuries and inspiration has been taken from former distilleries: Ferintosh, Ben Wyvis in Dingwall and Glenskiach in Evanton. The original Ferintosh Distillery was established by the Forbes of Culloden family in 1690, on the Black Isle just east of Dingwall, and is one of the oldest recorded whisky distilleries in Scotland. The new Distillery will re-instate craft whisky distilling to the Dingwall area, some 90 years after the last of the town’s original distilleries closed down.
The famous Ferintosh brand of the day was a much loved whisky throughout Scotland and was a favourite of Scotland’s great bard Rabbie Burns, who lamented: “Thee, Ferintosh! O sadly lost! Scotland lament frae coast to coast!” … on its closure in 1785.
The new GlenWyvis Distillery will be built on a farm above the town of Dingwall and will be 100% community-owned distillery and 100% powered by green energy.
The distillery is the brainchild of the Flying Farmer, John F Mckenzie, supported by a board of directors and local community representatives. John said: “We have a truly winning combination here of a stunning Scottish Highland location, immense historical appeal linking back to Culloden, Burns and Ferintosh and readily available hydro, solar and wind energy to bring this innovative whisky project to fruition.”
“From the outset we have envisaged the project as more than a distillery. It is an opportunity for all social investors to help reinvigorate the historic town of Dingwall. GlenWyvis will be built on its whisky heritage, its community-ownership and its environmental credentials. We have amazing local resources and will be using only local barley from a farmers’ cooperative – hence our strapline built on history – powered by nature”
John added: “There is a real buzz around Dingwall at the moment as our local football team Ross County has just won the Scottish Football League Cup and now we are launching our community-owned distillery. It’s double plaudits all round!
“This Friday we are one of the main sponsors of the Ross County Annual Dinner and Auction with 300 guests in attendance and each guest will receive a commemorative miniature of Ross County Football Club League Cup GlenWyvis Gin.
“On the eve of our launch, we want to get the message out to the local community as well as to whisky lovers near and far to invest in the future of the GlenWyvis Distillery.”
Construction of the distillery is due to commence in June 2016 with the first run of whisky planned for Burns Night 25 January 2017. The distillery will produce craft Scottish whisky and there are plans for an associated Visitor Centre in the town to be added as part of a wider plan to recreate Dingwall as the Craft Distillery Town of Scotland, and as a quality tourism destination on the North Coast 500 route.
Commenting on the share offer Kelly McIntyre, Programme Manager, CSS said: “This is one of the biggest community projects we have been involved in and we hope it will make a seismic impact in the kind of projects that we will see coming forward to work with Community Shares Scotland in the future.
“GlenWyvis has a truly international appeal with an amazing whisky heritage story which will strike a chord with expat Scots and the Scottish Diaspora worldwide and has the added impact of sitting nicely along the North Coast 500 route. And with its historic story links to Forbes of Culloden there is all the more reason for investors and visitors alike to become involved.”
Scott Armstrong, VisitScotland Regional Partnerships Director, said: “In Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, it is fantastic to hear about this innovative scheme, which ensures a high level of local ownership of the distillery. Whisky is one of our strongest draws for visitors and I am delighted that GlenWyvis has taken this opportunity to tell their own whisky heritage story.
“With an associated visitor centre also planned, this offers another stop-off point which we would hope will increase visitor numbers to the town. Without tourism, many remote communities would not be sustainable and business sectors like drinks, retail or construction would be severely impacted.
“Our visitor research has revealed that the one thing that makes Scotland different to any other destination is its ability to ‘stir your soul’. Through our ambitious new global Spirit of Scotland campaign and #ScotSpirit social movement, VisitScotland is working to raise the profile of Scotland to unprecedented levels as a place to visit, invest and live – and this project really does have #ScotSpirit!”
The GlenWyvis Community Share Offer opens on 16 April 2016 and closes on 24 June 2016. However, the board reserves the right to extend this deadline if the amount raised is close to the total required to proceed.
To download information on the GlenWyvis Distillery Community Share Offer – check out http://www.glenwyvis.com