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Business / Alcohol licence go-ahead for whisky distillery

A visulisation of a tasting room in the distillery.

SHETLAND’s first whisky distillery has been granted an alcohol premises licence.

Lerwick Distillery’s application for on and off sales went in front of councillors on Shetland’s licensing board on Monday.

The times off sales is 10am to 9pm, and for on sales it is 11am to 7pm.

The application said among the activities would be tours of the distillery and tasting sessions, while there would be a gift shop selling alcohol and “local artisan wares”.

Councillors were happy to approve the application, with Shetland Central member Catherine Hughson saying it is “really good to see a new business developing in this side of the town”.

Work is ongoing at the distillery on Lerwick’s Market Street.

It comes after the team is said to have “far exceeded” a £1 million target for share capital investment.

Speaking after Monday’s meeting, operations director and co-founder Calum Miller said the plan was to open the building in phases – starting with the shop first, which should be in 2024.

It is expected that the distillery part of the building will then open in 2025.

Scottish law dictates that a spirit cannot legally be called a whisky until it has matured for at least three years and one day, so the distillery plans to bottle a blended spirit which will be sold from the shop in the meantime.

There is also a bonded warehouse in Scalloway which the company now has in place.

Meanwhile an occasional licence for the sale of alcohol was granted to Lerwick cafe C’est la Vie for 12pm to 11pm from Wednesday 19 June to Tuesday 2 July.

This period covers the arrival of yachts on the Bergen/Lerwick yacht race as well as some days after too.

The local licensing standards officer had noted that the cafe does not have its own toilets for public use – and that the closest public toilets, on the Esplanade, close at 9pm.

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But the meeting was told an arrangement had been made with the nearby Puffin Republic building in which customers could use its toilets.

This prompted some discussion between councillors, with Shetland North member Tom Morton seeking clarity on the arrangements.

North Isles councillor Ryan Thomson, however, said it was not unique given that during his recent visit to a “well established watering hole in Edinburgh” customers had to use toilets in a rival pub next door.

Meanwhile Shetland South member Bryan Peterson said having to nip over the road for the loo was perhaps “part of the charm”.

The move to approve the application was made by Lerwick councillor Stephen Leask, who – referring to the theme of the cafe – spoke some words in French, adding that he had been learning the language on Duolingo.

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