New Scotch Whisky Distillery Planned On Historic Site On A Remote Island

The island of Benbecula could best be described as somewhat remote, being located in the southern islands of the Outer Hebrides, which is basically extreme western Scotland before you cross the Atlantic towards North America. It is there the iconic Nunton Steadings exist, and it is at this site that a new Scotch whisky distillery is planned.

The Nunton Steadings have been acquired by North Uist Distillery, a young gin making outfit that launched in 2019. Developing their own whisky was apparently in the plans, and the right site was all that was needed. It is said that North Ulst master distiller, Jonny Ingledew, and creative director, Kate MacDonald, are “delighted to have completed the purchase of the steadings, which will be redeveloped as a distillery and visitor centre, and give the couple the space to distil whisky and build on the success of their popular range of premium ‘Downpour’ gins.”

Nunton Steadings

The Nunton Steadings have been acquired by North Uist Distillery, which plans to produce whisky there (image via North Uist Distillery)

“Our main goal has always been to put the islands on the whisky map and therefore we are incredibly excited to have secured Nunton Steadings which will allow us to fulfill our whisky dream,” said Ingledew in a prepared statement.

In an effort to keep things as local as possible, the team aims to make whisky “using a grain that local crofters produce, Bere barley, which is one of the oldest cereals grown in the UK.” They hope to create a supply chain of this barley on the islands with the “intention of one day being able to malt the barley, allowing for full grain to glass production in the new premises.”

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Nunton Steadings has a rather interesting history, having been built in its current form “in the early 1700s on the site of a nunnery dating back to 1300. Bonnie Prince Charlie took shelter there while on the run in the aftermath of Culloden.

“Built on what was then a substantial farm, the structure was seized with the land when crofters raided Nunton in the aftermath of the Great War. Local crofters housed cattle and stored animal feed inside the building until it fell into disrepair and was transferred to the Uist Buildings Preservation Trust, later renamed Nunton Steading Trust, which saw the building renovated in the late 1990s. Nunton Steading Trust placed the building on the market earlier in 2020.”

“We will be providing tours which will cover the whisky and gin production process and also share the stories of this historic building and the surrounding areas,” said Macdonald.

Plans call for getting community involvement with the distillery via “a crowdfunder later in the year to raise money to procure whisky equipment.” If all goes according to plan whisky production could commence at the site as soon as 2022.