TALES of illicit whisky distilling on the shores of Loch Ness may feature soon in a new visitor centre if plans for the facility get the go ahead from Highland Council.
Hospitality and tourist operator Cobbs is teaming up with the Dingwall-based GlenWyvis Distillery to create what is being billed as the Loch Ness Whisky Experience.
If approved by planners it will be sited in a redeveloped cottage by the lochside Clansman Hotel, which Cobbs owns.
GlenWyvis Distillery opened in late 2017 as the world’s first 100 per cent community-owned, fully sustainable distillery producing single malt whisky and craft gin.
It was denied permission to open its own on-site visitor centre last year amid concerns about accessibility, though it says it is still working with the council to resolve that situation.
Highland Council's transport planning team are seeking more information on a number of matters related to the proposed Loch Ness development, including traffic impact and access to the A82 public road, but Cobbs managing director, Fraser Campbell, believes it is an exciting project with huge potential.
"Abriachan and the area around the Clansman Hotel was well known for illicit stills and I know the distillery has a lot of information and history which will feature at the visitor centre," he said.
"It is important we bring more tourists to the area and give them things to do when they are at Loch Ness.
"The Clansman runs fantastic boat trips, but not everyone wants to go on a boat so we want to bring other visitor experiences to the loch.
"We approached the distillery. They think it’s a great idea and we think it's a great idea and of course it will be a great means of promoting their product."
He added: "We get lots of bus tours from Invergordon to the hotel and this development will also help reduce traffic and help the environment because it means they will not have to spend half a day on the road travelling to a whisky experience elsewhere."
GlenWyvis managing director John Mckenzie said: "This opportunity has come at the perfect time for GlenWyvis. It will give us access to a global audience and it will provide a great forum to engage with visitors who are interested in the story of whisky from a Highland community perspective. This is about the story of grass-roots distilling, distilling for the people, and, of course, that is what underpins the community ethos of GlenWyvis."
The aim is to have the new visitor attraction up and running by this summer but to develop it further after that, providing both interactive and interpretative displays, as well as a retail facility.