A NEW £12 million whisky and gin distillery and visitor centre on the Isle of Barra, just a mile-and-a-half from the house where Compton Mackenzie wrote Whisky Galore and near the island’s famous beach airport, will “have a huge impact on Barra and the Outer Hebrides in a positive way”, creating jobs and boosting tourism.

Full planning permission has been granted to Isle of Barra Distillers by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar with the firm anticipating that the purpose-built distillery and visitor centre at Eoligarry in the north of the island will create at least 40 new jobs. Work is on track to commence in September with it expected to open in spring 2025.

Managing director Michael Morrison, who founded the business with his wife, Katie, in 2016, said that Isle of Barra Distillers will each year donate 1% of total net profits back into the local community.

Its goal is to establish the Isle of Barra Distillers Foundation for the sole purpose of giving back to the island. “The long-term goal is by year 13, or once our 10-year-old malt is released, we will be in a position to help build affordable homes for the foundation to sell at cost price to young families to help ease the housing issue on the island of Barra.”

With distilleries on Lewis, Harris and Benbecula, and several in the Inner Hebrides too, there is potential to expand the existing Hebridean Whisky Trail, Mr Morrison said, adding that Barra’s new distillery and visitor centre will maximise views to the west and over the Sound of Barra.

He pointed to the “romanticism” of Barra and its connection to Whisky Galore, Compton Mackenzie’s book inspired by the grounding of the cargo ship SS Politician, carrying more than 250,000 bottles of whisky, which got into difficulty off the nearby island of Eriskay in1941. Scenes from the 1949 movie were filmed on Barra.

Isle of Barra Distillers’ inaugural and now award-winning spirit, Barra Atlantic Gin, draws on its “relationship with the sea” with its custom-designed bottle produced from 78% recycled glass.

It has recently landed its first deal with Waitrose & Partners meaning Barra Atlantic Gin will be available UK wide with the initial launch into 120 stores across the country.