Orkney craft distillery & visitor centre gets green light

Plans for an Orkney craft distillery – the first in the islands – have been given the go-ahead by the Islands Council.

Work on Orkney Distilling Limited's artisan distillery, visitor centre and shop – to be sited in Kirkwall’s Ayre Road – will begin in the autumn, with an official opening planned for next spring.

Once open, the distillery will take on full production of the company’s Kirkjuvagr Gin, which has been undergoing a rigorous development and testing process over the past few months.

Stephen and Aly Kemp, the local couple behind the project, have worked closely with the Agronomy Institute at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Kirkwall to identify a uniquely Orcadian blend of ingredients for the new gin.

Kirkjuvagr Gin will initially be crafted on mainland Scotland using the same artisan process Orkney Distilling will employ when production moves to the county, upon completion of the Kirkwall distillery.

“Securing planning permission for our distillery represents a major step forward for the project,” said Stephen Kemp. “We’re now looking forward to getting work underway on the distillery and creating what we hope will be a major new visitor attraction for Orkney.

“As people will hopefully see from the images of the new distillery, we’ve tried to create an attractive building that fits in well with its harbour front location. The siting of the distillery was particularly important for us, given the seafaring and Norse themes in our branding, so we’re really delighted to get the go-ahead.”

Stephen said Kirkjuvagr Gin would be officially launched in Kirkwall in early August, with the first batches sold exclusively in Orkney.

“Over the past few months we’ve fine-tuned our recipe for Kirkjuvagr and are confident we’ve created a gin that’s going to make a real impact on the marketplace,” he said. “It’s a gin that’s going to be uniquely Orcadian, reflecting the qualities our islands are renowned for. There’s a nod to our Viking heritage in the recipe, but Kirkjuvagr is very much a drink for the modern, discerning gin enthusiast.”