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HIE funding for North Uist Distillery’s Nunton Steadings development

Published: 31/05/2022

An 18th century steadings building in the Outer Hebrides is set to be transformed into a distillery, community hub and visitor centre.

Picture Credit Clickybox Photography / HIE

The ambitious project is being led by owners of North Uist Distillery, which acquired Nunton Steadings in Benbecula in 2020.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) awarded the company up to £250,000 investment for the development, which includes installation of distilling equipment and building adaptation.

Owners Jonny Ingledew and Kate Macdonald have operated the business since 2017 and now employ 10 people. They currently produce and bottle gin from industrial units in Bayhead, North Uist.

The redevelopment of Nunton Steadings will give the couple the space to build on the success of their popular range of premium ‘Downpour’ gins. A shop, bar and tasting room are already set up and operating from Nunton Steadings, which is proving popular with visitors and local people. Work has begun on lime rendering on the listed building.

The business also aspires to produce a world-class single malt whisky at the new premises. Using locally grown bere barley produced by crofters, the production and bottling of gin and whisky will be carried out on-site. It is expected that six new well-paid skilled jobs will be created over the next three years.

Kate said: “We are keen to work with crofters to create a supply chain of bere barley on the islands with the intention of being able to malt the barley, allowing for full grain to glass production.

“We aim to provide tours of the distillery covering the whisky and gin production process and sharing the stories of the historic building and the surrounding areas. The support from HIE allows us to build a home for our products here in Benbecula, with a visitor centre and shop that will hopefully attract more visitors to the area."

Nunton Steadings is a Grade-B listed building of significant historical and cultural interest to the area. It was constructed in its current form in the early 1700s on the site of a nunnery dating back to 1300.

Built on what was then a substantial farm, the structure was seized with the land when crofters raided Nunton in the aftermath of the Great War.

Since then, local crofters have housed cattle and stored animal feed inside the building until it fell into disrepair and was transferred to the Uist Buildings Preservation Trust, later renamed Nunton Steading Trust, which saw the building renovated in the late 1990s.

Nunton Steading Trust placed the building on the market earlier in 2020.

Joanna Peteranna, area manager at HIE’s Innse Gall team, said: “This exciting development will add to the rich variety and high-quality food and drink offering found throughout the Outer Hebrides. Establishing a distillery and visitor centre in a historic building with so many stories to tell, will help attract more visitors. It will also add another distillery to the gin and whisky production trail in the Outer Hebrides and will create several high-quality jobs.”

With Scotland’s drive towards net zero carbon, this project will be developed sustainably with the aim of reducing impact and achieving net zero in its activities. The building will also comply with the latest building regulations and will use modern, efficient machinery leading to reductions in energy consumption.

Maoineachadh bho HIE airson leasachadh air Tuathanas Bhaile nan Cailleach do Thaigh-staile Uibhist a Tuath

Tha tuathanas bhon 18mh linn ann an Innse Gall ri bhith air a chruth-atharrachadh gu taigh-staile, ionad coimhearsnachd agus ionad luchd-tadhail. 

Tha am pròiseact àrd-amasail seo ga stiùireadh le sealbhadairean Taigh-staile Uibhist a Tuath, a fhuair Tuathanas Bhaile nan Cailleach ann am Beinn na Faoghla ann an 2020.

Thug Iomairt na Gàidhealtachd ’s nan Eilean (HIE) inbheisteadh de suas ri £250,000 don chompanaidh airson an leasachaidh seo, a tha a’ gabhail a-steach stàlachadh air uidheam grùdaireachd agus ath-nuadhachadh thogalaichean.

Tha na sealbhadairean Jonny Ingledew agus Ceit NicDhòmhnaill air a bhith a’ ruith a’ ghnothachais bho 2017 agus a-nis tha 10nar luchd-obrach air am fastadh aca. Gu làithreach, tha iad a’ dèanamh agus a’ botaladh sineubhar a-mach à aonadan gnìomhachais ann an Ceann a’ Bhàigh ann an Uibhist a Tuath.

Bheir ath-leasachadh air Tuathanas Bhaile nan Cailleach cothrom agus farsaingeachd don dithis airson togail air soirbheachas an raoin sine ‘Downpour’ aca. Tha bùth, bàr agus seòmar blaisidh air an stèidheachadh mar-thà agus ag obair a-mach à Tuathanas Bhaile nan Cailleach, a tha air a mheas gu mòr le luchd-tadhail agus le muinntir an àite. Tha an obair aoil air tòiseachadh air an togalach chlàraichte seo.

Tha an gnothachas an dùil cuideachd ri mac-na-braiche aig ìre chruinneil a thoirt gu buil san togalach ùr. A’ cleachdadh eòrna air fhàs le croitearan sa choimhearsnachd, thèid toradh agus botaladh an t-sine ’s an uisge-bheatha a choileanadh air an làraich. Thathar a’ sùileachadh gun tèid sia obraichean sgileil ùra air an deagh phàigheadh, a chruthachadh thar nan trì bliadhna a tha romhainn.

Thuirt Ceit: “Tha sinn dealasach a thaobh obrachadh còmhla ri croitearan gus sèine solair de eòrna braiche a chruthachadh sna h-eileanan, a’ coimhead ri bhith comasach air an eòrna a bhraicheadh, agus mar sin a’ ceadachadh saothrachadh bho ghràn gu glainne.

“Tha sinn ag amas air cuairtean den taigh-staile a chur an gnìomh, a’ còmhdach a’ phròiseis toraidh an lùib uisge-beatha agus sine agus a’ roinn sgeulachdan an togalaich eachdraidheil seo agus na sgìre mun cuairt. Tha an taic bho HIE a’ ceadachadh dhuinn àite a thogail airson ar bathar an seo ann am Beinn na Faoghla, le ionad luchd-tadhail agus bùth a tha sinn an dòchas a bhios a’ tàladh tuilleadh luchd-tadhail don sgìre."

Tha an togalach air Tuathanas Bhaile nan Cailleach clàraichte aig ìre B agus glè chudromach don sgìre a thaobh ùidh eachdraidheil is chultarach. Chaidh a thogail sa chruth làithreach tràth sna 1700an air làrach an t-seann taigh-cràbhaidh a’ dol air ais gu 1300.

Air a thogail air tuathanas a bha gu math susbainteach aig an àm, chaidh an togalach a thoirt an grèim còmhla ris an fhearann nuair a thug croitearan ruaig air Baile nan Cailleach an dèidh a’ Chogaidh Mhòir.

On uair sin, tha croitearan sa choimhearsnachd air a bhith a’ cumail chruidh agus a’ stòradh biadh bheathaichean san togalach gus an do thuit e às a chèile agus a chaidh eadar-ghluasad gu Urras Glèidhidh Thogalaichean Uibhist, agus ath-ainmeachadh gu Urras Tuathanas Bhaile nan Cailleach, a chunnaic an togalach ga ath-ùrachadh aig deireadh nan 1990an.

Chuir Urras Tuathanas Bhaile nan Cailleach an togalach air a’ mhargaid ann an 2020.

Thuirt Joanna Peteranna, manaidsear sgìreil sgioba Innse Gall aig HIE: “Cuiridh an leasachadh brosnachail seo ris a’ mheasgachadh shaidhbhir agus àrd-chàileachdail de bhiadh agus deoch a tha rim faotainn air feadh Innse Gall. Cuidichidh stèidheachadh air taigh-staile agus ionad luchd-tadhail ann an togalach eachdraidheil leis a leithid de sgeulachdan ri innse, le tarraing air tuilleadh luchd-tadhail. Cuiridh e cuideachd taigh-staile eile ri triall saothrachaidh an t-sine ’s an uisge-bheatha ann an Innse Gall agus cruthaichidh e grunn obraichean de dh’àrd-chàileachd.”

Le Alba a’ stiùireadh a dh’ionnsaigh cothromachd càrboin, thèid am pròiseact seo a leasachadh gu susbainteach le amas air buaidh a lùghdachadh agus cothromachd càrboin a choileanadh na ghnìomhachdan. Bidh an togalach cuideachd a’ gèilleadh do na riaghailtean togail as ùire le innealraidh nuadh-aimsireil is èifeachdach, a’ leantainn gu lùghdachaidhean ann an caitheamh cumhachd.

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