WORK has begun in Fife on a multimillion-pound project that will see Scotch whisky produced in its spiritual home for the first time in more than 500 years.

Lindores Abbey earned the reputation thanks to Friar John Cor, who paid duty on malt in 1494 in order to make “aqua vitae” for the king, an act that was recorded in the Exchequer roll and is the earliest written evidence of whisky distillation in Scotland.

Drew McKenzie-Smith and his wife Helen are behind Lindores Abbey Distillery, which will incorporate ancient distilling techniques and ingredients to produce a world-class spirit. The couple are also planning to open a visitor centre on the site.

The distillery will sit next to the ancient ruins of the 12th-century abbey, which was built by Tironesian Monks who originated from France. The monks worked the surrounding land and brought modern methods of horticulture, brewing, animal husbandry and distilling from the continent.

Drew McKenzie-Smith said: “To us, the history of Lindores Abbey is just as important as the plans we have to create a distillery. If it wasn’t for the expertise of the Tironesian monks who came to Scotland in those dark and frightening medieval times, we may not have the advanced industry we do today.

“Building a distillery on this site will bring the spiritual home of Scotch whisky back to life and we will initially produce and market an aqua vitae spirit. We’re working closely with various teams to ensure we respect and maintain the historic integrity of this unique site. We believe a whisky distillery and visitor centre will help drive tourists to this part of Fife and, in turn, have a positive impact on the local economy."