Falkirk Distillery landmark as licence to sell first whisky granted

Falkirk’s newest whisky distillery reached another milestone today (Wednesday) as it was granted a licence to sell its first whisky.

By Kirsty Paterson, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 4:23 pm
Updated Friday, 17th December 2021, 12:33 pm

And members of Falkirk Council’s licensing board were assured that this is just a taste of what’s to come from the new venture.

The licence granted today is just for the bonded warehouse part of Falkirk Distillery, on Grandsable Road, as the visitor centre is not yet finished.

The bottles will initially only be available to members of its founders’ club – investors who will be rewarded for their support with the very first bottles of the whisky when it is available.

Fiona Stewart of Falkirk Distillery. Picture: Michael Gillen

The hope is that the money generated by these sales will help the family-owned company to continue to invest in the facility in phases.

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Councillors were told that even to get to this point had taken a much longer time than anyone had anticipated when George Stewart and daughter Fiona first started the company, 12 years ago.

That was partly because planning permission had been difficult as the site sits near the Antonine Wall, which is a World Heritage Site – and partly for financial reasons.

Picture Michael Gillen

The agent, Niall Hassard, told members: “Because this is a family business, they very much sought to raise funding themselves as opposed to divest control and bringing in outside funders.”

Attending the meeting – which was held online and livestreamed – Fiona Stewart told the board that she could not give an exact timetable for opening the visitor centre but said it was likely to be in “third quarter of next year”.

At the moment, Mr Hassard said that the licence was for an operation that is “very modest” – but when running at maximum capacity, the distillery will be able to produce something like one million litres of spirit every year.

Picture Michael Gillen

The venture has already been operating with occasional licences – and the agent representing said that he was sure they would be back looking for further permissions as the business grew.

Mr Hassard said: “We hope that this won’t be the last you’ll see of us – we have the fantastic, white-washed building that houses the stills and the mash and also is set to house the visitor centre.

“That is undergoing an internal fit-out and as and when that is funded, we would hope to be back in front of the board to add to it.

“What we want is a fully fledged visitor attraction with all the things that distilleries offer – tasting tours, cafes and so on.

“But every good journey starts with a single step and step one today for us is an off-sales licence for the bonded warehouse and other stages may follow from that.”

Members of the board were assured that all sales would be delivered by a reputable courier.

They agreed that it was an exciting venture that would boost tourism in the district and gave it their approval.

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