Plans to turn what was once one of Scotland’s most iconic distilleries into a whisky resort are beginning to take shape.
The Coleburn Distillery, which is south of Elgin, ceased its production of whisky almost 40 years ago. It was then purchased by brothers Dale and Mark Winchester in 2004.
Their plan was always to turn the distillery into a five-star resort, complete with a hotel, accommodation and spa and conference facilities.
Their ambitious plan also includes reinstating Coleburn as a fully working distillery to create a fully immersive experience for their guests.
Speaking to the Press and Journal, co-owner Dale said: “The original plan is still the plan to develop the whole site. Nowhere else have you got a five-star hotel sitting next door to a fully working distillery.
“It’s an opportunity for the public to get inside a distillery, stay overnight in it, get the sights, sounds and feel all together.”
When the brothers first bought the buildings, they hadn’t anticipated it would take almost 20 years to get their plans off the ground. However, they needed to monetise their investment and generate cash before they could think about starting their project.
They managed to achieve their goal by turning D&M Winchester Limited, the company they own, into a successful business with bases at Coleburn Distillery and Greshop Road in Forres.
The company manages whisky on behalf of other independent bottlers, as well as dealing in export and import.
Due to the success of that business, they’re now in a position to expand and finally get to work on their hotel project, which is thought to be the first of its kind in the world.
Dale said: “Since 2017, we have been working hard to get a revenue stream flowing through the business to allow us to do all the other projects we want to do.
“We manage other independent bottlers’ whisky and we also have our own stock of whisky too with a vision of finishing that and bringing it to the market. We currently have a team of around 15 people which includes a bottling team, operating team and admin office.”
It’s taken quite a while to build up their business to get in the position they’re now in. However, part of that has been down to the fact the brothers have wanted to remain independent, refusing outside investment in favour of doing it all themselves.
Dale explained: “We’ve totally funded it ourselves. We’ve done it the hard way. The easy way would have been to just roll in somebody else’s money. We could have sold the whole site a number of times, but that’s not the plan.
“We’ve got a passion and a vision and we can see the benefit of delivering this whisky resort for the area.”
The brothers hope their project will be complete by summer. So if you’ve ever wanted to stay at a five-star hotel located in a fully working distillery, that may soon be possible.