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Island's first legal whisky distillery to open on Saturday

Whisky makers R&B Distillers will open their new distillery on the Isle of Raasay.

Whisky makers R&B Distillers will officially open the first ever legal distillery on the Isle of Raasay this weekend.

The small Hebridean island has only 120 residents and the distillery will include a visitors' centre which is predicted to attract 12,000 tourists in the first year.

It is also expected to generate employment for a tenth of the island's residents.

R&B Distillers will use the distillers to create the first Raasay Scotch, which will be ready to drink from 2020.

The distillery, to be opened on Saturday, will be furnished with two copper pot stills sourced from Frilli in Tuscany and R&B predict that it will be able to produce 150,000 bottles of Scotch whisky a year.

Co-founders Alasdair Day and Bill Dobbie are realising a dream to make whisky in a new location.

Mr Day said: "I think the fact that it's an island off an island with complex geology, water and island climate that makes Raasay ideal for our innovative Scotch whisky distillery.

"The water has a high mineral content and probably the best view from any distillery in Scotland."

Raasay: The distillery is predicted to produce 150,000 bottles a year.
Raasay: The distillery is predicted to produce 150,000 bottles a year. STV

Raasay is a small island, only 14 miles in length, situated off the east coast of Skye.

In the 1800s, illicit stills would have been commonplace on the island and neighbours on Skye would even hang out white washing to warn Raasay 'distillers' of an approaching tax man.

The island's residents have watched on eagerly for the past 18 months as a disused Gothic villa hotel, Borodale House, was transformed by ABIR architects into the new distillery, adjacent visitors' centre and Na Tùsairean Club members' accommodation.

In February 2016, R&B received permission from Highland Council to bring the island its first distillery.

The young brand subsequently secured grants from the Food Processing Marketing and Co-Operation Grants Scheme, as well as the Highlands and Islands Enterprise, for the development of a visitor's centre.

Distillery: Will be officially opened on Saturday.
Distillery: Will be officially opened on Saturday. STV

Chris Taylor, VisitScotland regional partnership director, said: "The opening of the new Isle of Raasay Distillery is an exciting addition to the tourism offering in the Highlands, particularly with the development of a visitor centre and the promise of such fabulous views from the distillery itself.

"Whisky is so embedded in the traditions of this country so is seems very fitting that the new distillery is opening during Scotland's Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

"It is also great to hear that a disused Victorian villa has been brought back into use in such an innovative way."

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