Hike funding

HIE funding for Nunton Steadings development of North Uist Distillery

YEAR 18e century in the Outer Hebrides is about to be turned into a distillery, community center and visitor center.

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

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has granted the company up to £250,000 development investment, which includes the installation of distillation equipment and the adaptation of buildings.

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 they need to build on the success of their famous range of premium ‘Downpour’ gins. A shop, bar and tasting room are already set up and operate from Nunton Steadings, which proves popular with visitors and locals alike. The lime rendering work has begun on the listed building.

The company also aspires to produce world-class single malt whiskey in the new premises. Using locally grown bere barley produced by crofters, the production and bottling of gin and whiskey 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 want to work with crofters to create a supply chain of bere barley on the islands with the intention of being able to malt barley, enabling whole grain to glass production.

“Our aim is to provide tours of the distillery covering the whiskey and gin production process and to share the stories of the historic building and surrounding area. HIE’s support enables us to build a home for our products here in Benbecula, complete with a visitor center and shop which 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 built in its present form in the early 1700s on the site of a convent 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 housed livestock and stored animal feed inside the building until it fell into disrepair and was transferred to the Uist Buildings Preservation Trust, later renamed the Nunton Steading Trust, which has saw the building renovated in the late 1990s.

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

Joanna Peteranna, Area Manager within HIE’s Innse Gall team, said: “This exciting development will add to the rich variety and supply of high quality food and drink that the found in the Outer Hebrides. Establishing a distillery and visitor center 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 whiskey production chain in the Outer Hebrides and create several high quality jobs.

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