The Lakes Distillery has just received a £250k grant from Britain’s Energy Coast supported by the Access to Finance Service to launch their new gin and whisky distillery business. The £2.5m business will open in 2014, creating and saving more than 30 new jobs for the area.
The Lakes Distillery will be the first Cumbrian whisky distillery in over 100 years, distilling high quality malt whisky, gin and vodka for the wholesale market as well as offering a visitor centre, which will run guided tours around the site. Aiming to produce the equivalent of 300,000 bottles of single malt whisky per year, with the capacity to produce 1,000,000 bottles, the distillery will be housed in a converted model farm set close to Bassenthwaite Lake, six miles from Keswick and overlooking one of the Lakes' highest peaks, Skiddaw.
Access to Finance Advisor Maria Ramsdale has worked with Founder of The Lakes Distillery Paul Currie since 2012, initially assisting with getting the business investment ready. In 2013 Maria introduced him to economic development organisation Britain’s Energy Coast (BEC) who awarded the distillery a £250,000 Investing in Business grant that will help unlock £2m of investment, as well as creating and saving more than 30 jobs.
Paul Currie chose the site after two years of searching for the perfect location. Paul says: “Malt whisky is a Celtic product, and has been distilled in the highlands and islands of Scotland, in Ireland and in Wales. Now Cumbria, another Celtic region, is to start the age-old skill of whisky distilling once again when we open the doors of The Lakes Distillery. We will be combining long forgotten skills, ingredients, techniques and tradition with our contemporary knowledge and expertise to produce an outstanding range of products.
“We are investing £2.5m in the distillery and a big part of that, £250k, is a grant that Access to Finance was able to help us to secure through Britain’s Energy Coast. This grant has been fundamental in helping us to achieve our vision of creating a world-class distillery and visitor centre in the area.”
Paul Currie formerly set up the widely acclaimed Arran distillery with his family, and now plans to produce malt whisky of similarly outstanding quality. The Distillery will also be producing gin, using juniper berries grown throughout the Lake District, building on a long tradition of illicit gin stills in the area.
Following the launch of its first product, The One blended whisky at Taste Cumbria last Autumn, renovations are now underway at the site with the assistance of the grant from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund-supported and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority-backed ‘Investing in Business’ programme. Production of The Lakes Gin, The Lakes Vodka and The Lakes Malt is due to start in the summer, with the remaining building work complete in time for the visitor centre, bistro, bar and shop to open later in the year. The visitor centre will enable visitors to find out how single malt whisky and gin are made and will feature displays teaching about each stage of the distilling process, regular tours of the distillery to see the stills in action, a tasting room to sample the products and a shop selling the whisky and gin, souvenirs and a range of local produce. The bar and bistro will serve a menu of seasonal, locally produced food, helping to make the attraction a great day out for visitors to the Lake District.
For much of the 1700s the area was a hotbed of gin smuggling and in 1795 alone a million gallons of gin are said to have been smuggled across the Solway. Eventually, as distilleries were legalised, gin distilling died out in the Lakes – and now The Lakes Distillery is bringing it back with Lakes Gin distilled in a small traditional pot, very much on an artisan level as it was all those years ago and using a range of botanicals native to Cumbria including juniper, bilberries, heather and meadowsweet.
Access to Finance advisor Maria Ramsdale said: “The Lakes Distillery is a fantastic new business and visitor attraction for Cumbria and will be bringing an ancient tradition back to the region. We were delighted to be able to help them to secure the financing they needed to open the distillery and to work alongside the many local investors and supporters already involved in the project.”
David Jones, Head of Projects, Energy & Business Support at Britain’s Energy Coast, said: “With our funding award unlocking a further £7 worth of investment for every £1 we put in, The Lakes Distillery is set to become a real asset to the area. The interest that has already been generated has been a strong indication of future success, which will not only encourage more visitors to the Western Lake District but will be a significant boost to jobs.”
The award to The Lakes Distillery is just one of a series of funding awards that have been made by BEC through the Investing in Business programme since the start of 2013 with the aim of boosting the local economy. As part of its comprehensive business support service, BEC can also offer businesses and projects loans when suitable, in particular to bridge gaps in overall funding packages.
The Access To Finance (A2F) service http://www.a2fnw.co.uk offers free and impartial advice and investment readiness support to businesses across the North West region that need to raise finance. The A2F service, which receives its funding from the European Regional Development Fund, has a team of experienced and credible specialist advisors that work with new and established SMEs to help them become investment ready. This includes support for the development of a business plan, current financial situation diagnostic and the identification of the most appropriate financial products available. The A2F advisors then help the business to access a wide network of contacts to find the best finance provider for their needs.
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