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Micro gin distillery to be built in Caithness

The creation of the most northerly distillery on mainland Britain is moving forward as work is due to begin at Dunnet in Caithness.

Dunnet Bay Distillers are building a micro gin distillery, which will use botanicals that showcase and promote the heritage and provenance of Caithness and the Highlands of Scotland.

Construction is due to begin in January.

 Husband and wife Martin and Claire Murray, who live in Dunnet, set up the company, which aims to have the first gin samples ready by summer 2014 and begin distilling soon after.

 Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) are assisting the project with funding of £83,990.

Martin is currently studying an MSc in brewing and distilling through the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University. During this time he has worked with the Centre on a number of research products to assist with product development, with additional product and process development projects supported by funding from Interface.

Claire has been working with a number of experts in Caithness to research local botanicals which can be used to flavour the new hand distilled gin.

Martin comments: "We are absolutely delighted at reaching another significant milestone for our project. We couldn't have achieved this without the support from HIE, who have been fantastic right from the first time we approached them.


Laura Gunn from HIE, adds: “We are extremely excited to have the most northerly distillery in mainland Scotland opening in Caithness. Martin and Claire have put a huge amount of time and effort into ensuring the product they are creating is of an extremely high quality. Recent research by Mintel suggests that consumers are moving further towards premium drinks from craft distilleries using local ingredients, with 15% of all white spirits sold considered ‘premium’ and this expected to rise. The focus on a hand-distilled, high quality product which is inspired by Caithness and uses local ingredients is a welcome addition to the county.”

Claire says: “The distillery building is underway, we have carefully researched and chosen 'Mary-Ann' our copper still with botanical basket and have hand selected our precious Caithness botanicals. We are getting ready to distill!”

“We are located in the spectacular bay of Dunnet, Caithness where the freshest of air and purest of water are in abundance. Our goal is to create spirits which reflect the Caithness way. We hand distill slowly, thoughtfully and passionately to create an exceptional product.

“Each year will herald a new vintage. Like a fine wine, our Caithness botanicals are dependant on our climes resulting in a truly hand crafted gin that will subtly change year on year, but is still undeniably Rock Rose.

Rock Rose Gin was named after our first botanical forage along our Caithness cliffs, where we discovered Rhodiola Rosea, a rose in the rocks. Thousands of years ago, the Vikings would pillage these wild exposed cliffs to gather Rhodiola Rosea. This was thought to give them extra strength to continue on with their long, arduous journeys.

“Our gin uses this 'Rock Rose' and a blend of local and traditional botanicals to create a unique taste from Caithness in the Highlands of Scotland.

31 December 2013 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor