Highlands & Islands

Whisky distillery proposed for tiny island of Raasay

Alasdair Day Image copyright Handout
Image caption Alasdair Day, one of the men behind the plan, is already involved in making Tweeddale whisky

Planning permission is to be sought for a whisky distillery on the tiny island of Raasay off the Isle of Skye.

It would be one of Raasay's largest employers if it opens as planned in January 2017 with 11 jobs on an island with a population of 120 people.

R&B Distillers has proposed turning Borodale House, a derelict Victorian hotel, into a distillery and visitor centre.

The first batch of whisky could be produced by 2020.

A pre-planning application was submitted to Highland Council earlier this year.

In its work to secure full planning permission, R&B Distillers must carry out a protected species audit at the proposed site.

This study will check for the presence of bats, otters and the Raasay vole, a subspecies of the British bank vole.

Image copyright Handout
Image caption Victorian Borodale House could have a new life as a distillery and visitor centre

A full planning application for the distillery and visitor centre could be submitted by September.

R&B Distillers was founded in 2014 by Bill Dobbie, a Scots entrepreneur and co-founder of online dating site Cupid, and business partner Alasdair Day who produces Tweeddale blended whisky in West Lothian.

Mr Day said: "It's incredible to think that there are still areas of Scotland completely 'forgotten' by whisky.

"The Isle of Raasay is one of those unique locations and the perfect home for R&B Distillers to handcraft whiskies of uncommon provenance."

He added: "We're now working hard to engineer a whisky destination unlike any other. From the magnificent views over to Skye, to experiencing craft distilling first hand, we can't wait for visitors to discover our whiskies, the island and the community here on Raasay."

Image copyright Handout
Image caption Raasay has an industrial past

Tourism and deer stalking provides the main employment on Raasay. But in the past, parts of the island were mined for iron ore.

The village of Inverarish was built for the miners, and a larger community grew around its original 64 terraced houses.

During World War One, German prisoners of war were kept at Inverarish and put to work at the nearby open cast mine.

Residents of Inverarish held a street party in July 2012 to mark the village's 100th anniversary.

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