Highlands & Islands

First distillery opened on Isle of Raasay

Isle of Skye Pipe Band on Raasay Image copyright George Rankine
Image caption Isle of Skye Pipe Band took part in the opening ceremony

A distillery has been officially opened on a tiny Scottish island.

R&B Distillers' Raasay Distillery has been constructed at the site of a former Victorian hotel on Raasay.

The site will make the first legal whisky on the small island off Skye, under the guidance of distiller Iain Robertson.

In the past, whisky was made illegally using illicit stills as it was in other parts of Scotland.

Image copyright Phillip Thornton
Image caption The view from inside the distillery
Image copyright R&B Distillers
Image caption The Victorian hotel, Borodale House, before its conversion into a distillery
Image copyright Scott Mooney
Image caption The distillery will be opened to the public later this year

Raasay has a population of about 120 people and is reached by a ferry from Skye.

Saturday's opening marked the completion of the island's distillery. It is to be opened to the public next month.

'Bat hotel'

R&B stands for Raasay and Borders. Co-founder Alasdair Day's great grandfather, Allan MacDonald, was from the Hebrides while his other great grandfather, Richard Day, was a master-blender in the Borders in the early 19th Century.

The company secured planning permission for the project from Highland Council in February last year.

Mr Robertson, a graduate of Heriot-Watt University's Brewing and Distilling School in Edinburgh, was appointed the distillery's distiller in July this year.

Image copyright Phillip Thornton
Image caption Raasay is a small island off the Isle of Skye

The distillery has been built at Borodale House, which had been empty since 2006.

The site has bat boxes and a "bat hotel", providing a nesting space for the mammals in the roof of the distillery.

These are required to accommodate the UK's most north-westerly population of brown long-eared bats, which were found in the vacant hotel during an environmental impact study.

Image copyright Scott Mooney
Image caption Raasay Distillery's distiller Iain Robertson is a graduate of Heriot-Watt University

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