gavin smith

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by Gavin D Smith, 06/09

The 'Kingdom' of Fife has long and proud associations with Scotch whisky. The very earliest surviving record relating to Scotch, dating from 1494, makes reference to Lindores Abbey, near Newburgh, and the county is also synonymous with great whisky names such as John Haig.

Today, Fife boasts a brace of distilleries at opposite ends of the scale in terms of size and output, namely Diageo's giant, grain distilling facility at Cameronbridge and the Cuthbert family's 'boutique' farm-based distillery at Daftmill, near Cupar. Soon, however, if ambitious plans come to fruition, Fife may have a third working distillery.

"Despite its fantastic heritage, there is no operational Fife distillery with visitor facilities to showcase and learn about Scotland's national drink," says Doug Clement, who currently combines golf caddying duties with a pro-active role in the Kingsbarns project. "Whisky is one of our proudest exports," notes Clement, "but for the many visitors who flock to the St Andrews area, they have to travel over an hour more to actually visit a distillery."

The Kingsbarns Company of Distillers Ltd plans to convert the disused, historic East Newhall farm steading on the Cambo Estate (pictured, right), between St Andrews and Crail, into a working distillery and visitor centre.

The Estate has been home to the Erskine family since 1688 and adjoins the renowned Kingsbarns Golf Links, where Doug Clement currently plies his trade.

Output would be in the region of 90,000 litres when the plant was operating at full capacity, producing a traditional, Lowland-style of spirit, while the sale of white spirits and the presence of a visitor centre and café would give an income stream during the years before Kingsbarns whisky was ready to sell.

The use of the conditional tense in the paragraphs above is significant, since at present the entire distillery venture depends on raising a significant amount of capital from investors. However, forward planning and research have been very thorough, and the requisite professionals are on board, giving this exciting project the very best chance of success.

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