Progressive whisky makers Fettercairn Distillery unveil a visionary programme with local farming community in the North-East of Scotland
Fettercairn Distillery, alongside founding partners Bairds Malt, last week celebrated in launching the new Fettercairn 200 Club – a visionary, long-term partnership with Northeast barley farmers all within a 50 miles radius of the distillery. Partners are all situated in the local Aberdeenshire farming community on the doorstep of the Highland Single Malt Distillery.
As of this year members of the 200 Club have committed to supplying the distillery with 100% of the barley required to produce Fettercairn Single Malt whisky, ensuring end to end transparency of the highest quality locally sourced barley. The launch of the 200 Club is the latest step in the Highland distillery’s quest to realise its land management vision for the next 100 years, ultimately enabling the production of its own single origin Single Malt whisky.
The partnership marks the beginning of a mutual relationship between the whisky makers and farmers for generations to come. In line with ambition for greater transparency across the industry, Bairds Malt are founding partners of the club, helping nurture the relationship between distillery, the land and its guardians that will define the future for whisky made by Fettercairn. As the relationship between the distillery and farmers strengthen, so too does the potential for innovation and experimentation in future releases.
The celebration also marks the reopening of the popular distillery visitor centre, following closure due to the pandemic, and recent redevelopment of the visitor facilities. The beautiful new visitor centre has been upgraded to provide a unique experience for those keen to discover more about Fettercairn and includes an iconic new sculpture – Forest Flow – from acclaimed environmental artist Rob Mulholland, now a new feature of the distillery visitor experience.
These developments follow on from the unveiling of the Fettercairn Forest last year which saw over 13,000 sessile Quercus petraea and Quercus robur oak saplings planted next to the distillery on the historic 8,500-acre Fasque Estate, representing a wider commitment by owners Whyte & Mackay to develop a sustainable future for responsibly sourced Scottish oak.
Stewart Walker, Distillery Manager at Fettercairn Distillery said:
“We talk about being progressive and defying convention and the 200 Club truly supports this commitment. Working with local farmers not only supports our vital community, but also ensures the highest quality of locally supplied barley is used in our unique distillation process while truly cementing our relationship with the land. We’re delighted to be looking to the future so positively and today is a landmark for the future of Fettercairn, we cannot wait to welcome our partners and visitors back to the distillery.”
Speaking at the event Nikki Cumming, Senior Brand Manager said:
“This is a really special day for us here at the distillery as an opportunity to thank the local farming community. At Fettercairn we like to say the next 100 years are as important as the past. This initiative is really a true testament to this by laying the foundations and cementing relationships for future generations of whisky makers and farmers to come.”
Charlie Strang Steel operates Sluie farm in Aberdeenshire less than 15 miles from Fettercairn, where his family has been farming for three generations in both beef and arable in the shape of wheat, oats and barley. He believes the time is right for this new initiative.
“It’s really important to have the Distillery using Scottish barley from some of the amazing farms in the area, rather than taking it across the border or in a boat from somewhere else. We are able to farm to a very high standard in Scottish quality assured crops especially as more and more people are looking for local produce. Scottish whisky should use Scottish barley – it’s as simple as that for me and it’s great to support local people and business,” he said.
David Innes and his son Matthew farm 560 acres at Mains of Fordoun farm growing spring barley, wheat and winter barley, oil seed rape and seed potatoes.
“We’re pretty proud that we’re supplying the Distillery – it’s good to know that Fettercairn is using grain coming from the immediate area – true to its nature and the location. We love the idea that if you give someone a bottle of whisky, you can tell them you helped grow the barley, the raw material. A lot of the time farmers like us don’t really know where our barley ends up – this completes the circle in a really pleasing way and we know we are supporting the local economy too,” he said.
The Fettercairn 200 Club and the commitment the highland distillery has made to working with local businesses and Scottish landowners, suggests the whisky makers are determined in their progression towards a holistic future where whisky makers, farmers and landowners work collaboratively in every step of the whisky making journey, from grain to glass.