SHETLAND is due to get its first ever whisky distillery later this year, with the project now approaching completion.

Lerwick Distillery will open its doors to the public at some stage in 2024, although an official opening date is yet to be announced.

The concept began more than a decade ago between friends Martin Watt and Calum Miller and, after finding a site for the project in 2022, they have been planning the build and eventual opening ever since.

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Scottish law dictates that a spirit cannot legally be called a whisky until it has matured for at least three years and one day.

As such, the distillery is planning to bottle a “new make” spirit to cover operational costs for the first few years.

This product will be called Haad Still – a traditional Shetland phrase for “hold on” – encouraging people to wait for the whisky to mature.

The team received help from Business Gateway adviser Diana Abernethy, helping them to access a start-up grant from Shetland Islands Council which in turn helped to raise the profile of the business.

Watt, the distillery’s director, said: “The support that we received from Business Gateway has been excellent.

“Diana was able to point out things that we had missed in our business plan, and gave us access to great contacts to help us develop.”

Abernethy meanwhile added: “Shetland is the last area of the UK without a distillery, so to be able to help Martin and Callum reach the goal of being the first distillery on the island has been fantastic.

“It’s an exciting brand and journey they’re embarking on and will give such a boost to tourism in the area and the local economy.”