Uile-bheist distillery in Inverness has officially opened, making it the first new distillery in the area for over 130 years.

Inverness has a lot of historical importance to the whisky industry, as it was once a centre for malting. The city was also home to distilleries such as Glen Mhor and Millburn, but all of the city’s distilleries were closed in the 1980s.

However, the new distillery will not be looking to the past for inspiration, instead seeking to forge their own identity through experimentation and innovation. For example, Uile-bheist are not just a distillery, but rather (in their words) a ‘brewstillery’.

Both whisky and craft beer will be produced at the site. While this is not entirely unusual, Uile-bheist depart from the norm by using innovative technology that allows the facility to essentially share production equipment for some elements of both the brewing and distilling processes. The result of this efficient process is a significantly reduced carbon output.

Indeed, sustainability is at the heart of what Uile-bheist seek to do. In addition to the production methods, the distillery will utilise a pioneering water source heat pump to harness heat from the water drawn from the River Ness. On top of that, there are also solar panels on the facility’s roof. This will provide heat and warm water to both the distillery and neighbouring hotels, apartments and restaurants.

If the idea of a brewstillery brings to mind images of The Chimera (or if you simply think the word brewstillery is an abomination), then it won’t be a surprise to learn that Uile-bheist is Scots Gaelic for ‘monster’.

Legend has it that the first sighting of the Loch Ness Monster occurred in the River Ness. Inspired by such myths and folklore, Uile-bheist intend to pay homage to local legends in the artwork on their packaging. Renowned illustrator Ken Taylor will design the packaging, and has already produced artwork that is featured at the distillery.

In terms of production, there has been no declaration of an intended house style, but the distillery promises to take an experimental approach to their distilling. The distillery currently has the capacity to fill 200-300 casks per year, and produce 350,000 litres of beer annually.

However, this is just part of the first phase for the distillery. Plans are already in place to expand the production capacity and enhance the distillery’s already impressive visitor spaces.

Uile-bheist is now open for tours, with the owners hoping to attract around 300,000 visitors a year.