Scotland’s The Cairn Sees First Spirit Flow From New Whisky Distillery

| July 29, 2022

The Cairn Distillery recently had a landmark moment at their new Grantown-on-Spey facility, as the first spirit flowed from their stills.

The Cairn’s distillery and executive teams joined members sssssdof the Urquhart family, owners of Gordon & MacPhail, for the first spirit run just after the commissioning phase of the distilling equipment.

Ewen Mackintosh, Gordon & MacPhail managing director, said in a prepared statement, “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 more than 127 years of trading.”

Cairn First Run

The Cairn Distillery recently had a landmark moment at their new Grantown-on-Spey facility, as the first spirit flowed from their stills. (image via The Cairn)

He said that later in 2022, when the visitor experience is finished and the landscaping is completed, they intend to invite all colleagues from Gordon & MacPhail, and others who’ve helped them to this point, to experience The Cairn Distillery for themselves ahead of opening to the public.

The Cairn’s distillery manager, Mhairi Winters, said that for the past few weeks, they’ve been conducting test distillations, tweaking the process to create the desired character of their whisky.

“The result is a complex, medium to full bodied new-make spirit, with a sweet, malty base and vibrant, fresh fruit top notes,” she said.

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

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The Cairn’s first bottles are estimated to be available to purchase by the mid-2030s.

Sitting on the banks of the River Spey at Craggan, just outside Grantown, The Cairn is a second distillery for Gordon & MacPhail, the Moray-based family business.

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

Opening to the public later this year, the facility will offer a selection of visitor experiences, whisky tastings, and selected gifts. Visitors will be able to dine at The Gathering and experience produce sourced from across Scotland. It’s been designed with a “green” sedum roof.


Gary Carter

Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether...