UK whiskey first for Badenoch and Strathspey
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The boss of what is set to become the UK’s first home based Shochu distillery is in fine spirits after his project got the go-ahead.
Robin von Einsiedel’s plans for the development on Pityoulish Estate by Aviemore have now been approved by Highland Council planners.
The Japanese beverage is typically distilled from rice, barley, sweet potatoes, buckwheat or brown sugar.
Shochu usually contains 25 per cent alcohol by volume which is weaker than whisky, gin, vodka and other spirits popular in the UK but stronger than its compatriot sake.
Mr von Einsiedel said: “We are pleased and excited that planning has been approved.
“Providing planning conditions are met, construction of the Shochu distillery will start in late spring 2024 with the first batch of Shochu being ready early 2025.
“It’s a really exciting project, and looks like it will be the first Shochu distillery making Honkaku Shochu in the UK.
“Shochu, known as Japanese whiskey, is a clear, low percentage spirit made from barley and water which is fermented over a number of weeks and subsequently distilled.
“It’s then rested in steel containers over a number of months where the flavour matures. When finally ready, it really is a great drink when it’s made well.”
Mr von Einsiedel said it was a bit of a launch into the unknown – and he will be heading to Japan with his wife to learn more about the art.
He said: “We think there is a market for it. Shochu is drunk all over eastern Asia – China, Korea and Japan – but it is all slightly different.
"Japanese shochu is a more smoother and delicately flavoured low-based spirit and can take anywhere from two months to two years to make.”
The site is an existing agricultural shed adjacent to the category B listed Kincardine Church and burial ground.
Council planners have approved its removal and the erection of the shochu distillery and office and workspace.
Planners say venture is a good fit for whisky region
The local authority planners approved the Shochu distillery plans using their delegated powers.
Planning officer Jennifer Mair stated in her approval: “The proposal is for the erection of a building to house a shochu distillery and office accommodating two to four members of staff producing approximately 1000 bottles of shochu per month and will not have any public access.
“Operations are to be undertaken during business hours with HGV deliveries and waste collection on a monthly and fortnightly basis respectively...
“Waste mash from the distilling process is to be dried and given to the farmer on the estate as cattle feed. The business partners who will be undertaking the initial process live within walking distance of the building.”
The planning officer said noise from the distillery will be minimal.
Ms Mair said: “The proposal for a shochu distillery is compatible with this wider context of industry in the area.”
She added: “The building itself is designed to reflect the character and vernacular of the rural area, while utilising materials to give a more modern and industrial feel.”