Water of life: rare whisky donated to boost River Dee restoration

Rare whisky produced at Royal Deeside's first new distillery in 200 years has been donated to an environmental charity to help protect the iconic river that supplies the water used to create the spirit.

Four rare casks of malt whisky have been donated to the River Dee Trust to help fund a major project to improve the iconic river environment and boost wild salmon populations
Four rare casks of malt whisky have been donated to the River Dee Trust to help fund a major project to improve the iconic river environment and boost wild salmon populations

Deeside Distillery in Banchory, which laid down its first batches of spirits in 2017, has handed over the last four casks of its inaugural limited-edition whiskies to the River Dee Trust to help fund one of the most ambitious nature restoration projects in the Cairngorms.

One of the malts has been laid down in a 200-litre virgin American oak cask - the only one of its kind made by the distillery.

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The other three are maturing in 250-litre ex-oloroso barrels.

Renowned whisky aficionado Charlie Maclean sampled the whisky, donated by Deeside Distillery, describing it as “superlative” and “better than gold” as an investment

The four casks are made even rarer by the fact that only 100 will ever be produced at Deeside Distillery, which is shortly moving to a bigger home not far away but cannot take its name to the new site.

Cash raised when the spirits go on sale next year will go towards important restoration work, including tree planting and ecological improvements, which will benefit wild salmon and other wildlife.

Well-known whisky writer Charles Maclean has been lucky enough to sample the new malts, which he described as “superlative” and “better than gold” as an investment.

Sandy Bremner, chairman of the River Dee Trust, has expressed gratitude for the gift, the biggest single donation to the project.

He said: “It’s a challenging time for all charities, and we have committed to planting a million native trees to help cool the river as it faces dangerously rising temperatures.

“This donation will help us continue our work to save our iconic wild salmon and restore the whole ecosystem.”

Deeside Distillery manager Liam Pennycook said: “The Dee is a magical river which touches the lives of so many people.

“We want to help the river through the challenges ahead, to make sure it’s in the best possible shape for those who love it now, and for future generations.”

Mr Pennycook added: “Due to regulations, we can’t move its name to another site so this will become a ‘lost distillery’. In every sense, this will be very special whisky.”

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