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Whisky Production Begins At The Orkney Distillery

Stephen Kemp, Managing Director of The Orkney Distillery, and Tony Reeman-Clark. Credit: Fionn McArthur, Orkney.com

The Orkney Distillery is entering a new era. The first-ever whisky distillation at the distillery will occur today (March 27th) to coincide with International Whiskey Day. 

Founded in 2016, The Orkney Distillery, located in Kirkwall on Orkney, has long harbored ambitions to diversify its spirits profile with whisky and rum. Until today, the distillery has exclusively produced Kirkjuvagr gin. 

Following delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the distillery was granted licenses to distill rum and whisky in 2023. Since then, the distillery has seen expansion works in preparation for this new venture. This includes a new pilot brewhouse, with plans to install three new copper stills in summer 2024. 

Prior to The Orkney Distillery’s first official single malt scotch release (for which we will have to wait at least three years), the distillery will release two small batch whiskies, one peated and one unpeated, named Hoy and Fara. These whiskies will constitute The Orkney Distillery’s first foray into the whisky market. 

Stephen Kemp, Managing Director of The Orkney Distillery, said: 

“Over the past seven years, The Orkney Distillery has become well established within the Scottish drinks sector, with our award-winning range of Kirkjuvagr gins a firm favourite in the marketplace. Our single malt Scotch whisky will be a fantastic addition to the distillery’s product range and will be crafted with the same commitment and attention to detail that we’ve applied to our gin production. We’ll share more details in the coming weeks and months but suffice to say we’re determined to create a single malt of exceptional quality and provenance, one that reflects our values as a business and celebrates the long tradition of whisky making in Orkney.” 

The distillery has also begun rum distillation as of January 2024. 

Whisky Distilling On Orkney 

Orkney has a long and fascinating history complete with Vikings. This is the Skara Brae UNESCO World Heritage site, a preserved Neolithic settlement on Orkney.

In recent years, budding whisky makers have turned to Orkney to establish new distilleries. In the last eight years, Kimbland Distillery, Deerness Distillery, and The Orkney Distillery have been founded on the islands. These new distilleries join Orkney institutions Highland Park and Scapa in whisky making in the far north of Scotland. 

As such, it seems that Orkney is quickly establishing itself as a new whisky region. Whether it is given official classification, of course, is another matter. However, there is no doubt that Orkney scotch whisky has its own distinct character as well as a history that is deeply rooted in the islands’ Viking heritage. 

Keep an eye on The Orkney Distillery’s whisky news for updates on its journey towards releasing single malt scotch whisky. 

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