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Dornoch No. 2: Thompson Bros' New Distillery Receives Official Approval

(Source: Dornoch Distillery) 


Yesterday, Dornoch Distillery and its founders, Phil and Simon Thompson (widely known as the Thompson Brothers), announced that they have secured official approval from the Highland Council planning committee to build their second - and larger - distillery in Dornoch South of the Scottish Highlands. The new distillery remains yet to be named.

The Thompson Brothers are widely recognised for their influence in the craft whisky and spirits scene. Early on, they made a name for themselves with their cult favourite independent bottling label (the Thompson Bros), and are also the people behind Dornoch Distillery, which stands out for its commitment to old-style whisky making. While the vast majority of modern Scotch distilleries focus on efficiency and high production volume, Dornoch Distillery's approach looks to revive old and often overlooked methods of making whisky said to give vintage whiskies from the 60s' and 70s' so much more flavour.


Released only via ballots, the whisky community eagerly snaps up each small-batch release of Dornoch Distillery Single Malt.


While it's been known for some time that the brothers had intentions to build a second, larger distillery to slightly expand their production volume,  securing the necessary permits from the authorities is never a straightforward process. Considerations may range from traffic management, public safety and environmental considerations. The Highland Council's approval signals a major milestone crossed.

| Read Our Interview With The Thompson Bros: Why Indie Bottling Must Be Reinvented


The new and yet-to-be-named distillery would sit very close to the existing Dornoch Distillery, and would overlook the Dornoch Burn stream (Source: Dornoch Distillery) 


So, what can we expect from this new distillery in Dornoch South? According to the Thompsons, the facility will have about 10 times as large a production capacity as the original, with an initial 175,000 litres of alcohol per year. Despite the scale-up, the same distinct style of production would be used, staying true to traditional methods. A highlight is its sustainability ambitions and the new distillery's ability to operate entirely off-grid using renewable energy generated on-site.

As with any construction project, the next step is for the Thompson Bros to submit their building plans to authorities and obtain a building warrant, before the actual construction could begin - which Simon roughly estimates would require a 12-month construction period (in our interview with the Thompson Bros early this year).   

While the journey is far from over, for whisky lovers and the local Dornoch community alike, this approval represents the tangible progress of the Thompson Bros and their fans' vision transforming into reality. As the brothers venture into this new phase, the world of whisky waits eagerly to see what Dornoch Distillery 2.0 will bring to the table.


88 Bamboo Editorial Team