Malt whisky production is set to resume in its “birth place” in a rural part of north-east Scotland for the first time in 170 years.
Construction began on the Cabrach Distillery as the foundation stone was laid at a site in Inverharroch, Moray, on Thursday.
A 19th century farmhouse will house the facility and a future heritage centre after £3.5m was sourced for the project which will showcase the craft and alchemy of making Scotland’s national drink.
The distillery will operate as a social enterprise, with future revenues supporting the Cabrach Trust’s regeneration mission.
Barley will be sourced from adjacent fields which will maintain a commitment to sustainability.
It is hoped the project will be completed next year, which will mark 170 years since the last time whisky was legally produced in the area.
A significant change to legislation in 1823 meant three Cabrach families were compelled to establish legally-regulated distilleries on their farms.
The facilities flourished and real Cabrach whisky became highly regarded.
But various factors saw the distilleries close one by one and the population of Cabrach declined to less than 100 people.
Grant Gordon, founder and chairman of the Cabrach Trust, hopes the new distillery will regenerate Cabrach as a “thriving and sustainable community”.
Mr Gordon said: “Having laid this stone, it represents a critical milestone for the trust and we look forward to embarking on this exciting next chapter in the Cabrach story.”
Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, said: “This is fantastic news for the area. As well as adding to the local economy, and hopefully attracting further investment, this project will create much-needed job opportunities and support more young people to live and work in the area.”
Richard Lochhead MSP said the project will put Cabrach on the map. He said: “The Cabrach is a unique community with an incredibly rich heritage.
“The trust’s ambitious regeneration plans promise to open a new chapter in its story. It is widely believed that the Cabrach is the birthplace of Scotch whisky and plans for a new distillery and heritage centre are not only fitting but also hugely exciting.
“This project will undoubtedly put the Cabrach on the map and I’m delighted this funding has been secured.”