Recently, Deerness Distillery announced their plans to become the first new whisky distillery on Orkney in 138 years. The current distillery was founded on Mainland, Orkney, in 2016, and has since produced a range of spirits including the award-winning Sea Glass Gin.

Last month, owners Stuart and Adelle Brown revealed that they aim to expand the distillery to facilitate whisky production, with the expansion funded by the pre-sale of 200 casks of their inaugural whisky. They will be crafting a moderately peated spirit and future plans include creating rye and oat-based whiskies using locally sourced ingredients.

However, Deerness’ proclamation that they will be ‘first new whisky maker on Orkney’ has been refuted by another whisky producing neighbour.

Kimbland Distillery was founded in 2020 on Sanday, one of the North Eastern Orkney islands, and were weeks away from filling their first casks when Deerness made their announcement. Kimbland were planning on launching their own equity funding campaign, which has now accelerated to include 50 casks being made available now.

Sebastian Hadfield-Hyde, Kimbland founder and managing director, said he reacted with shock at Deerness’ announcement, claiming that they had made a “blunder” by declaring they were the first new whisky producer in the Orkney Isles. He went on to state that Deerness were a “gin distillery playing at whisky”.

Deerness responded, with Mr Brown believing that their claim still stands since they have “been an incorporated and operational spirits distillery since 2016, with the vision for distilling whisky in place from the get-go”, first publicly stating these plans in 2018.

While those behind the two distilleries don’t agree on who is the ‘first new’ distillery in the region, they reconcile around the fact that having two new distilleries will ultimately be a positive for the area.

As home to beloved distilleries Highland Park and Scapa, Orkney already has a well established reputation in the whisky world. These new comers will be looking to enhance that reputation while also establishing their own legacies. And, as fans of whisky, we can get excited about the prospect of forthcoming releases from two distilleries, regardless of who came first. The more the merrier!