Derbyshire whisky could start being produced by the end of the year after plans to create what is believed to be the first ever distillery in the county were given the green light.
White Peak Distillery has been given permission by Amber Valley Borough Council to create the venture inside disused industrial units at Derwent Works, in Matlock Road, Ambergate, which were formerly part of the Johnson & Nephew wire works.
However, people hoping to sample the firm’s whisky will have to wait at least three years to get their hands on the first bottle as the spirit needs time to age. In the meantime, White Peak Distillery will be making gin, which will be available later this year.
And as well as making spirits, the distillery will also have its own shop, tasting room and will offer visitors tours of the facility, which lies within the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
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White Peak Distillery is the brainchild of Max Vaughan, a whisky fan from Quarndon, who was inspired to set up his own distillery after visiting an urban whisky distillery in London.
It is estimated that the Derbyshire distillery will create at least 11 new jobs in its first three years of operation. Derwent Works had been a wire works since the late 19th century and at its height employed more than 500 people. The business closed in the mid-1990s and since then it has been used for fabrication and storage/distribution.
Mr Vaughan said: “We love the premises and the heritage of the former wire works and it’s great that we are able to bring some life back to these industrial buildings.
“The borough council was very supportive throughout the process and I was confident that we’d get planning consent but there’s always an element of risk.
“There’s been some bumps in the road – and no doubt more to come – but we’re very excited at the prospect of handcrafting whisky and other spirits in Derbyshire.
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“Ecology has been one issue we’ve had to deal with but I take the view that you can’t have the benefits of being by a river in a woodland location without respecting the wildlife that shares the surroundings.”
White Peak Distillery aims to produce small batches of single malt English whisky, aged on-site in oak casks. However, the aging process of the whisky will mean that the distillery will also need to produce spirits that do not need to be aged and can be sold shortly after they are made.
Mr Vaughan said: “The major next steps are for us to replace the roof in readiness for the main distillery installation to start in September. We hope to be distilling Derbyshire’s first whisky by year end.
“In the meantime, we have got our spirits research and development facility up-and-running and have been working on our whisky and on some gin styles.
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“We’ve now got three different gins that we’re very happy with and we plan to launch one of these – called Shining Cliff – later this summer. We’ll be using our small research stills until Christmas and so will have very limited release batches.”
Those who do want to be among the first to try the whisky are invited to join a group that will soon be launched online by White Peak Distillery called the Temperance Club.
Mr Vaughan said: “It’s called the Temperance Club because whisky can’t be rushed and its members will need patience – but it will give them an exclusive chance to be part of the distillery development and will allow them to build up a unique collection of our whisky over the first decade of releases.”
Source: Derby Telegraph