New Scottish Distillery Isle of Raasay Opens on Tiny Scottish Island

| September 27, 2017

What a difference two-plus years can make as you build out your own Scottish distillery on a tiny Scottish island.

When we first looked in on the Isle of Raasay distillery in mid-2015, the idea had been hatched to build a whisky making facility on an 24.1 square mile island that had a population of under 200 and was situated between the Isle of Skye and the Scottish mainland. Was this a pipe dream, or could those behind it actually pull it off in such a relatively remote location? The latter is now the case, with word from Raasay being the distillery is now open and making whisky.

Co-founders Alasdair Day and Bill Dobbie are realising a dream to make whisky in this unusual location, according to those behind this project. They managed to captivate the interest of locals, who watched with amazement as the facility went up. Put into play was a disused Gothic villa hotel, Borodale House, that has been transformed into the new distillery, adjacent visitors’ center, and Na Tùsairean Club members’ accommodation, which will be opening later.

Designed by Olli Blair from ABIR Architects and Allen Associates, the distillery incorporates the Victorian Borodale house and the modernity of a brand new distillery. It is furnished with two copper pot stills sourced from Frilli in Tuscany, which reportedly will be able to produce 150,000 bottles of Scotch whisky a year. It is also ultimately hoped to use all-local ingredients – water, peat and barley– to create a spirit that is a true reflection of the isle’s terroir.

As part of their commitment to being as local as possible in all things, the distillery has employed a Raasay local, one Norman Gillies, as Distillery Manager. Norman was born and raised on Raasay and has been involved in the distillery project from the early days, working as Site Engineer and then Ground Foreman on the construction process. With a strong engineering background coupled with experience on the build from the outset, it is said he understands the workings of the distillery very well.

“It is the location; an island off an island with complex geology, water and island climate with probably the best views form any distillery in Scotland, that makes Raasay ideal for our innovative Scotch whisky distillery,” said Day in a prepared statement.


Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...