Plans approved for Moffat’s first whisky distillery

A single malt whisky distillery to be built in Moffat, making it the town’s first legal Scotch distillery.

Whisky blender Dark Sky Spirits, which produces The Moffat blended malt, plans to begin construction of its new distillery and visitor centre later this year, with a view to commencing distillation in 2021, after its plans were approved by Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Once operational, the distillery will be initially capable of producing 60,000 litres of alcohol a year – enough to fill around one barrel per day.

The distillery, which is yet to be named, will create a dozen jobs across production and visitor centre roles, with an estimated 9,000 visitors anticipated in its first year.

The picturesque town of Moffat was historically a world-famous spa town often frequented by the poet Robert Burns, though it is best known today for its attractive countryside walks and eponymous toffee. It is a popular stopping point for tourists.

With a new craft whisky distillery, the area is expected to benefit from the increasing popularity of whisky tourism. In 2018 a record 2 million people visited a Scotch whisky distillery, a 6.1% increase on the previous year, and 56% more than in 2010 (source: Scotch Whisky Association).

Nick Bullard, founder and managing director of Dark Sky Spirits, said: ‘Even though it’s small, this distillery will make a big difference to our town and our region. It will attract visitors, bring new jobs and boost retail and hospitality trade. It will broaden and deepen Moffat’s attractiveness to whisky lovers around the world.’

Dark Sky Spirits joins the growing number of whisky, gin and rum distilleries operating in the Dumfries and Galloway region, including Annandale, Bladnoch, Crafty, Dalton and Ninefold.

Dark Sky Spirits’ distillery will use traditional methods to craft single malt whisky in small batches, using wooden washbacks and worm tub condensers to create a medium-bodied Scotch with notes of biscuit and citrus, in keeping with the Lowland style.

Tours will be offered to small groups of visitors, offering a rarely-seen glimpse of the entire whisky-making process from milling and mashing through to distillation, barrel-filling, bottling and labelling. Visitors will also be able to sample a range of whiskies, including The Moffat blended malt, with bottles available to purchase in a small shop.

Nick added: ‘This is a huge moment, not only for Moffat but also for our whole region. Now that our plans are approved – and with SoSEP’s valuable help – we can add another attraction to Moffat. It’s one more reason to see Dumfries and Galloway as a destination in its own right. We’re incredibly grateful to our tireless local team and our supportive and encouraging community.’

The approval comes just days after Dark Sky Spirits was awarded £320,000 in funding from the South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SOSEP), an agency established to drive economic growth in the region.

The distillery is one of three enterprise projects to benefit from SOSEP’s latest round of funding – £143,600 was awarded to a project that aims to enhance social enterprises in the Dumfries and Galloway area, and £39,500 to the Midsteeple Quarter project in Dumfries, which aims to refurbish underused and neglected High Street buildings as contemporary living, working and learning spaces.

Dark Sky Spirits was founded in 2018 by Moffat resident Nick Bullard. In 2019 the company launched its first whisky, The Moffat blended malt, which will soon be joined by two further expressions also inspired by the area, Doonhamer and Muckletoon.