28th September 2017

We are still here!

Our apologies for the lack of content on the news feed over the past couple of months. We were kindly reminded to put an update on-line by world famous dentist and Ajax fan Mr Van Gils.

It has been a crazy couple of months! We have been incredibly busy at Dornoch Distillery our full focus has been on making Single Malt and laying down casks for all of our crowdfunders. So far it is going fairly well. Progress has been a little slower than we hoped, however we now have Jacob Crisp back and we are back into full-on production - as full-on as our tiny distillery will go...

Over the past couple of months we have received many familiar faces and crowdfunders at Dornoch Castle Hotel. We appreciate you all taking time to visit our Hotel and Whisky Bar! We apologise for not being able to show everyone around the distillery but we truly appreciate everyone who comes to see us in Dornoch!

Old friends.

Old friends.

Over the next few weeks we will continue to lay down casks of Single Malt while working on our final release of Thompson Bros Organic Highland Gin.... We are very excited to bring this to market. More details will be revealed through October...

More of this in October....

More of this in October....

Again, thanks to everyone for the support we are really humbled by all of the support from all over the world. This whole project would not have been possible without you all!

....... we hope you will like it.....

....... we hope you will like it.....

Update No23 14th July 2017

A big thanks to everyone who has taken the time to send us their feedback on the experimental batches.

With 10 different styles ranging from a more classical mixing style to heavier malt wine Genever styles as well as some interesting botanical additions, there has been a lot of different opinions which can roughly be split into two camps.

The lighter styles that mix well have been very popular especially in our bar. These have gone down best with those who prefer a G&T or traditional gin cocktails.  

The heavier more spirit/fermentation/cereal flavour driven gins have been enjoyed by the kind of spirits enthusiast who samples straight.  The heavier styles tend to have more oils that come out of suspension when diluted leaving an interesting mouthfeel which has been kind of love or hate.

So how do we move forward from here?  A lighter bodied more neutral spirit seems to have more mass appeal but the heavier spirit driven gins have strong support from the spirits enthusiasts who also like the variation in style.

We are thinking of a two pronged approach for our final gin(s);

We are working on a “blend” as a core product that will be a mixture of our more flavourful spirit, made from organic floor malted barley, and one shot gin, made from organic grain spirit.   A small scale test of this has been resting in the warehouse for four weeks and it makes an excellent G&T.  We can put this out at a lower price point as good bar fodder and daily drinking.

For the enthusiastic straight spirits drinker we are looking to have a series of one-off specials with full from scratch production.

Currently we have turned most of our fermentation capacity over to single malt whisky production and are running some small scale gin experiments based on the feedback. There is still time to send us in your feedback.

For our crowdfunders we have sent you all your t-shirts and tasting packs of the first ten experimental batches.  For our first core bottles we have commissioned custom glass bottles.  The first batch of bottles will be ready soon but there have been delays on the custom sized corks which will not be with us until October.  If anyone is getting impatient, we are happy to send out one of the experimental batches instead (some are totally gone, though) but the sexy bottle will be worth waiting for...

In the meantime we have just released a local exclusive in 200ml bottles, retailing for £12.95 in local shops.  We are working on a batch 11 and 12 as part of the experimental series.  We have also been asked to make an exclusive gin for Japan.

WHISKY!!!

After more than a few delays we are finally in single malt mode.

We have just filled the official cask No1, a first fill oloroso butt (500 litres) from Bodegas Robles, a family owned organic certified bodega.  The spirit has come from unpeated Organic floor malted Plumage Archer barley, which was the predominant malting variety in the 1940’s, fermented for between 7 and 14 days using yeast varieties (propagated in house) from the Belgian Trappist breweries.  

After cask No1, we laid down the first 7 octaves for our crowdfunders (93 to go)  We will be roughly doing these in the order that people pledged with us. The next few will be in a similar style to cask No1 then we’ll be switching things up.  We have all the casks here, over 100 first fill bourbon and a handful of first fill Rye, all from Journeyman, an independent organic certified distillery near Chicago.  We have secured our supply of organic floor malted Plumage Archer and Marris Otter until the next harvest and we are organising more old varieties of barley.  Our priority in the coming months will be to fulfill our production commitments to all of you who helped this dream into reality :)

Octave owner hoodies and certificates are being worked on as well.

In other news, Jacob, who helped us right through the build and production will be leaving us soon.  We wish him the best of luck in his new venture. We have had a large number of applications for his job.  Although we haven’t replaced Jacob yet, we have some good looking applicants coming for trials very soon.

Stay Groovy,

Simon & Philip

Update No.22 1st March 2017

We have been busy - Honest!

What a crazy few months in Dornoch! We have been pushing on with creating the 'Experimental' Batches of Gin. There has been a lot of experimenting, production modifications, cuts, bruises, burns and various achy bits. We would not change it for the world!

Progress may seem slow, however as you know we are creating our Gin spirit from Scratch. We use fully floor malted Organic Odyssey barley fermented with flavourful brewers yeasts - Flavour is King!

Post mash-tun modifications - 300kg Mash - Making Gin the hard way... or the proper way...

Post mash-tun modifications - 300kg Mash - Making Gin the hard way... or the proper way...

Next week we will begin sending out Crowdfunding T-Shirts and we hope to send the sample packs of Experimental Gin at the start of April. Bottles will also be available in selected export markets and certain UK retailers, there will be circa 450 of each of the 10 batches.

The Whisky Bar and Hotel have been particularly busy with many whisky friends and crowdfunders coming to visit - we do appreciate you coming and look forward to seeing many more of you in the Spring and Summer!

There will be an informal Dornoch Distillery Gin tasting at Royal Mile Whiskies on Tuesday 7th of March. We will pour some of the experimental batches as well as some sexy whisky from our world famous whisky bar! We hope to see some of you there!

Time to get back to work..... does anyone want to help empty the mash tun!

Thanks for the ongoing support.

A wee nod to our Pictish past....

A wee nod to our Pictish past....

We have yet again worked with Katie Shiach to create some awesome labels for ten experimental batches. She has based each label on something which reflects Sutherland and the history of the area. 

Organic Draff makes local Sheep very happy!

Organic Draff makes local Sheep very happy!

Update No.21 23rd December 2016

Hello and festive greetings to everyone!

Since being granted our licence earlier in the month we have been mashing, running fermentations and experimental distillations on the column still. However, we have been waiting on the gas installation. This took a little longer than expected, but we are almost ready to fire up the wash still....

On the base and ready to be fired up!

On the base and ready to be fired up!

We are still getting to grips with how we will function, working out the best way to run the various processes. Although stressful and tiring we are very excited about 2017 and releasing the experimental feedback batches of Gin as well as laying down casks of our Organic Single Malt!

Frothy.

Frothy.

Thank you for all of your support so far. We would not have made it this far without you!

Phil, Simon and Jacob.

Dornoch Distillery needs you! More information coming 2017!

Dornoch Distillery needs you! More information coming 2017!

Update No.20 6th December 2016

We are now officially a licensed distillery!!

We must thank all of our friends, family and especially our crowdfunders for helping us reach this momentous stage. It has been an incredibly hard journey and we still have a long way to go....

Frosty mash mornings.

Frosty mash mornings.

We are now focusing on bedding in all of the equipment and understanding the nuances, what works, what doesn't, correct positioning, proper production schedules etc etc

The plan is to focus on our from scratch Organic Gin production so that we can send out the tasting panel feedback samples in the new year. We hope to have these with you in January so you can blow away those January blues....

Our first wash - Frothing like a crab on Scrabster pier.

Our first wash - Frothing like a crab on Scrabster pier.

In other news we have yet again won the SLTN Scottish whisky bar of the year! Another great reason to come and stay with us at Dornoch Castle!

We are also putting together some really great offers for people to come and visit the Hotel this winter......more to follow.

Did I mention we also released another great whisky.....

Did I mention we also released another great whisky.....

In between winning whisky bar of the year and being granted a distilling license we have also released another awesome single cask Whisky with our friends at Kimura LTD in Japan! We have selected a bourbon cask matured Glenrothes 1996 20 Year old. From the original 250 bottles, there are 150 currently on the way to our friends in Japan. The remaining bottles are for sale on our distillery website and directly in Dornoch Castle!

Again, thank you for the support - we couldn't have even done this if it wasn't for you.... I am off to get my head back into a mash tun and dig out the grain bed. Fun!

24th October 2016 - We have not run away...

Unfortunately Ripley was busy with the Caterpillar P-5000 on delivery day.

Unfortunately Ripley was busy with the Caterpillar P-5000 on delivery day.

Pot still bases are coming together nicely

Pot still bases are coming together nicely

Tomorrow AM I fly back to Scotland from Japan to push on with the distillery and also to help with the Dornoch Whisky Festival this coming weekend.....

Tokyo - Dornoch

Tokyo - Dornoch

still life

still life

Hello everyone!

For those of you who do not follow our updates on facebook, twitter & instagram, I can confirm that things are progressing well and we have been working hard to get the distillery up and producing!

We were delayed for quite a while with the delivery of our coloumn still from the Netherlands, however now it is here and in position things can now progress at a good pace!

Simon has submitted for our licences, so all going well we will be able to start producing in November! It feels like a long time ago that we sat and filmed our crowd funding video on winters night in Dornoch. We do thank all of our friends, family, staff and supporters for such superb belief, feedback, patience and support!

Some juicy ex organic bourbon octaves...

Some juicy ex organic bourbon octaves...

Do drop by and say hello to us at the Dornoch Whisky Festival

We are looking forward to speaking to everyone and discussing, in person, the progress of our humble wee distillery!

Simon, Ollie and I selected a rather sexy little follow up Caroni to our successful 18yr old. It will be released at the Gala Tasting this Saturday at the Dornoch Whisky Festival!

Caroni 1997, 19yr 63.2%abv 90 bottles only!

Caroni 1997, 19yr 63.2%abv 90 bottles only!

Again, much love to everyone for the support! We could not have got here without you all!

It is all starting to come together now....

It is all starting to come together now....

Update No.18 26th August 2016

He must have got in at Calais...

He must have got in at Calais...

Hello everyone, our apologies for the delay in this post. I can promise, we have been incredibly busy. Trying to start a distillery when you have a hotel and it's the busiest time of the year is, well, let's just say it's been slightly stressful....

On a more positive note progress has been good, not ideal, but steady. We have had some large pieces of equipment arrive; Pot Stills, burners, Hot Liquor Tank, Mash Tun & some incredily sexy ex-Organix Px/Olorosso casks from Spain....

We have made great progress with selecting botanicals and running experiments for our #milltostill Gin, there has been some enforced tasting sessions...

Fermentation Vessels.

Fermentation Vessels.

It is now (almost) water proof....

It is now (almost) water proof....

We have been totally humbled by the level of support from crowdfunders, friends, patrons and family. It's getting quite heavy, but the end is in sight.....

Thank you, much love.

Update No.17 10th August 2016

The professor at work - compounding some of our botanicals...

The professor at work - compounding some of our botanicals...

Stairway.... or ladder to heaven

Stairway.... or ladder to heaven

Busy is an understatement....

We have not ignoring our blogging duties, we have been extremely busy trying to get the Distillery up to speed as well as keeping the hotel and whisky bar ticking over during a busy July & August!
 

We can report that everything is going very well and beginning to come together. We have had the usual expected problems..... nothing we cannot handle.

We have very limited packages now available on the crowdfunding. It is likely that we will close it very soon....

It was a graveyard smash...

It was a graveyard smash...

Our mash tun has arrived. It is a beautiful piece of kit, despite causing us numerous headaches we are happy to have it here....

We have also selected another bottling for the Bar & Distillery - This time it is a Caroni 18 Year, very limited quantities are available via the website for pre-order.....

 We better get back to work. Thanks for all of the love and support!

Update No.16 23rd July 2016

An eventful week....

Things have been moving along really well on the Dornoch Distillery front line.

This week we have been working hard on various insurance, health & safety and HMRC paperwork.  It has been very exciting...

On a more positive note, we have received our pot stills & a few other pieces of equipment!

This landed in Dornoch

This landed in Dornoch

The hotel has also been extremely busy. We have had many lovely fellow whisky lovers and lot's of crowdfunders come and visit us - Thank you!

We plan on closing the crowdfunding very soon as we only have 6 of the Octave packages remaining as of today!

We have be absolutely humbled by the level of support we have received from all of the crowdfunders! This week we have had support from; The Czech Republic, Germany, South Africa, Singapore, Switzerland and Dornoch!

We are now looking forward to starting production and fulfilling all of our obligations - if it wasn't for you guys, Dornoch Distillery would not be a reality!

Quite exciting.....

Quite exciting.....

Update No.15 14th July 2016

Progress.

A busy couple of week. Distillery conversion has been progressing fantastically well and we have started receiving plant equipment..... THE POT STILLS ARRIVE NEXT WEEK!!!

Almost there....

Almost there....

This week the builders have laid external concrete pathways, replaced cast iron gutters and finalised the electrical plans. We have also received friends from NYC and Japan who are interested in importing Dornoch Distillery products!

We have also recieved many lovely crowd-funders at Dornoch Castle Hotel. Surprisingly nobody has asked for a refund ;-)

This excites us.

This excites us.

Next week the drains will be finally connected and we will set up the mill room and bottling 'hall'. The yeast experiments will also continue..... 

Yeasty experiments.

Yeasty experiments.

Oh, I forgot to mention; less than 10 octave packages left! Thanks for the support.

Update No.14 1st July 2016

Up's and Downs....

This week has been particularly testing. We were massively let down by a bottle manufacturer, however we can overcome almost anything. These moments were meant to test us and we have (almost) found a good solution!

On a more positive note we have overcome various issues and the builders and joiner have worked particularly hard this week. I must note that we have had some great assistance from SSE (Thank you Mr Ross) the Highland council and our local councillor, Jim McGillivary, has been wonderfully supportive and have helped us greatly when needed!

Glorious! Holes for venting and gas!

Glorious! Holes for venting and gas!

Simon has been working hard on the HMRC paperwork and I have to say that they have been incredibly helpful and supportive of Dornoch Distillery!

We have hosted our Japanese importer this week. He is very excited to sell Dornoch Distillery products in Japan and wants to create some wonderful bespoke collaboration bottlings for our Japanese friends!

Thanks for all of the ongoing support. We should also thank all of our staff at Dornoch Castle, the glug glug club and our parents for the help and support. We are making great progress and are fully committed to creating something beautiful.

Our bottle filler arrived today...... we just need a product now ;-)

Normally we are not this happy. (Photo by John Lamond)

Normally we are not this happy. (Photo by John Lamond)

It is very red.

It is very red.

Update No.13 23rd June 2015

Joining the dots......

Another wonderfully productive week has passed. Our joiner has been working incredibly hard creating doorways, floors and hanging the doors!

It's less gloomy in non-Instagram mode!

It's less gloomy in non-Instagram mode!

We have started receiving delivery dates for a lot of the larger pieces of equipment... It is all becoming very real!

There was a visit from one of our cask suppliers. They are wonderful gentlemen with a beautiful philosophy of organic production. We look forward to working with them for many years!

Wonderful Gentlemen!

Wonderful Gentlemen!

There has been some lovely visitors at Dornoch Castle Hotel this week; Including a famous water skiing Laphroaig collecting Dutch Journalist and the Whisky Tutor; John Lamond!

Anyone want to start sanding?

Anyone want to start sanding?

There are very few of the 'Fund our dream' packages now available. We are delighted to have formal supporters from Taiwan this week! :-)

Oh..... one more thing. Our foreman's partner has given birth to a beautiful wee girl! We are delighted for your Martin!

Update No.12 15th June 2016

PROGRESS!!

Thank you Mr MacInnes

Thank you Mr MacInnes

What a fantastic couple of weeks here in Dornoch! The builders have made superb progress; doorway into the Castle grounds has been created, steel beams are in place, pointing is 80% finished and the splash backs were finished today!

Progress!!

Progress!!

The hotel and whisky bar has been fantastically busy and our 1972 Invergordon has been flying out the door!

Katie, thank you for the wonder labels!

Katie, thank you for the wonder labels!

We have recieved inital label and bottle designs, we are delighted with the results so far and look forward to sharing everything with you all in good time .... ;-)

We have seen the busiest week of crowdfunding since we launched in May; we have had orders in from Hong Kong, China, USA, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Dornoch! The Octave package has almost sold out!

This took a power of work, well done guys!

This took a power of work, well done guys!

Thank you all for the ongoing support! Dornoch Distillery is becoming a reality!

Update No.11 3rd June 2016

We are coming to the close of a fantastically productive week here in Dornoch!

The builders have put in a power of work ensuring the water and three-phase electricity have been correctly connected! They have also almost finished the internal pointing, which looks awesome! 

Over half of the point has been completed - it will dry to a pale cream.

Over half of the point has been completed - it will dry to a pale cream.

Yesterday we received all out ATEX LED strip lights. A lot of the equipment is almost complete and we have started receiving delivery dates from the suppliers!!!

Mash-tun

Mash-tun

In the hotel we have welcomed some awesome whisky enthusiasts this week! We have had Dutch, Taiwanese, German, American and Swiss Whisky people! 

We have also sold over a third of our Invergordon 1972 for Dornoch Castle! Although, we are still waiting on the labels to be printed!!

Support beams for the 1st floor!

Support beams for the 1st floor!

Next week we are putting in our 2nd floor and hopefully creating a doorway into the Castle Gardens! It is all very exciting, we are not going to pretend it is easy, but we are loving every moment!

Thanks for all the support!

Phil & Simon

Update No.10 26th May 2016

Hello everyone! 

We have been incredibly busy here over the pas couple of weeks. The builders have been making great progress. We have been working on bottle designs and sourcing various Organic botanicals for our #milltostill Gin.

High visibility vests = Things happening.

High visibility vests = Things happening.

Tomorrow SSE are coming to hook up our three-phase electricity. Next week we should have the water plumbed into the building!

Pointing starts next week...

Pointing starts next week...

The hotel has also been very busy this week, we have welcomed more whisky people from all over the world - Australia, California, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland and Holland!

Essential research!

Essential research!

There will be an email update and a link to a private page for our crowdfunders. We aim to send this out by early next week, if not sooner! The support has been superb, thank you for your ongoing support...... and patience!!

We have alsorecently bottled a 1972 Invergordon for Dornoch Castle and a good Japanese friend! A good friend of ours has just finished the labels then it will be ready to sell from the hotel next week! 

There is 100 bottles for the UK and 118 for Japan

There is 100 bottles for the UK and 118 for Japan

Thank you to everyone for the ongoing support in our wee project. Let's make something beautiful!

 

Update No.9 14th May 2016

A productive week.

We have been in London & Kent at various meetings, we have been deciding on packaging & bottles, also meeting super secret botanical geeks!;-)

The builders have laid all the internal drains and have started working on the upper floor. They have also started digging channels for services!

Simon for scale.

Simon for scale.

The hotel has seen many awesome whisky people. Sadly we have missed many of you due to our trips down south, however we really appreciate you visiting our humble wee whisky bar and hotel!

Next week the builders will be pouring concrete for the floors, we are also meeting with our designers and working on more HMRC paperwork.....

Shiny industrial drain

Shiny industrial drain

There are also some cool whisky people coming to Dornoch Castle next week. We look forward to seeing you all! 

I almost forgot! The weather has been glorious in Sutherland!

 

Update No.8 9th May 2016

We are still here!

There has been a lot of this happening lately....

There has been a lot of this happening lately....

 

Everything has been progressing very well here in Dornoch. Drains are being laid this week and the 1st floor is also being worked on - new shiny steel beams to support some fermentation capacity and CLT's on the 1st floor!

Dornoch Castle has been very busy with lot's of whisky geeks from all over the world! This month we have received friends from Japan, Holland, Germany, Belgium, France, Reunion, Hong Kong and USA! 

A site visit from Whisky enthusiasms from Hong Kong!

A site visit from Whisky enthusiasms from Hong Kong!

 

We have a lot of fellow whisky geeks booked into Dornoch Castle Hotel this summer, we really look forward to showing you around our wee 'Distillery' and sharing some lovely drams!

There has been a lot of this at #whiskycastle 

There has been a lot of this at #whiskycastle 

Simon and I fly to London tomorrow AM for a super secret distillery mission; Botanicals, bottles and collaborations..... ;-)

Update No.7 20th April 2016

Wow! What a crazy month!

We want to thank everyone for the wonderful support we have received so far. We are completely and utterly humbled by everyone who has decided to financially support us via the various crowd funding tiers - we have only 45 Octaves left!

There has been support from all over the world; Japan, Singapore, Australia, Taiwan, China, USA, France, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and of course the UK - Again, thank you so much, we are delighted that you want to be part of our journey.

So..... what have we been doing..... well, deposits have been paid, storage units supplied, ground works have been completed and this week the builders have started converting the Fire Station.

THINGS are happening!

THINGS are happening!

 

We have both been working so hard to make this succeed, it has at points been pretty hard going, but thankfully we have awesome support from family, friends, staff and of course you guys!

I managed to disappear for a weekend to see my beautiful friends get married and then catch up with the Mr Watt, Mr MacRaild and Mr Beach in Campbeltown... Simon is spending some well deserved time off with wee Harriet this week :-)

That wee face keeps us all going!

That wee face keeps us all going!

Important research trip.....

Important research trip.....

Update No. 6 30th March 2016

image.jpg

Quick state of play;

  • Groundworks for warehouse and bottling hall done
  • External building works started
  • internal works starting 8th of April
  • Pot stills ordered
  • Column still ordered
  • pumps ordered
  • Wooden washbacks ordered
  • Crowdfunding, raised over £90000 so far
  • Working with HMRC to allow mini experimental setup ;)
  • Suppliers lined up for our specialist cereals and botanicals
  • Deposits paid for 1st fill exOrganic Bourbon & Rye Octaves  
  • Highlands and Islands Enterprise assistance secured
  • Designer working on logo modifications for t-shirts

 

We still have a lot to do.  There are lots of equipment that is in line.  We initially focused on items with the longest lead in times and the building itself.    We made some last minute modifications to the mash tun design and our HLT.  There are some modifications to the receivers to keep HMRC happy with regards to security… and a 1000 other things to sort out.

The crowdfunding campaign has been a major success and a big thanks to everyone who has got involved so far.   As before, no bank loans or equity investors for this project and having the involvement  and investment of hundreds of individuals is essential to seeing this project through to reality and setting up a solid base for the next 10,20, 30+ years.  A secure future and delicious spirits should result.

In terms of schedule, we are still on schedule for producing in July or August.  This is getting exciting!

Simon & Philip

Yummy Organic Octaves on the way to Dornoch

Yummy Organic Octaves on the way to Dornoch

Update No 5 13th of March 2016

 

Thank You everyone!  

This week our building warrant finally came in (permission to begin building, applied for after planning permission is received) and we have booked contractors for clearing the way for wee warehouse and bottling room which will be hidden behind an existing building in the garden and we are organising a start date with the builders.

Let's hope we don't have to use it.

Let's hope we don't have to use it.

We are receiving some assistance from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, essentially we can claim back a small percentage of capital expenditure while setting up.  We’ve been holding off paying for anything big until now as we are only covered after the approval date which has now moved to early next week.

1881 is a palindrome and an ambigram. 

1881 is a palindrome and an ambigram. 

Last week we went live with our crowd funder via a Scottish based managed platform.   We had to have it taken down straight away as it would not take international bank details, only UK.  We immediately built our own webshop based crowd funder as a replacement, had it tested and soft launched within 4 hours then announced on Facebook the following day.

Not sure if we can do anything with this.

Not sure if we can do anything with this.

As of just now we have raised £72890 from this campaign.  This puts us in a much stronger position than we were expecting and allows us to move faster without waiting on the sale of some property we own which is currently on the market, which can help pay for additional production down the line.

We’ll keep the fundraiser running on our here for a while  


Again, thank you to all of those who have faith in us.

(Special mention to Ryan Shiach for the lovely photos)