King raises a dram to mark official opening of distillery

The 8 Door Down Distillery in John O’Groats, Caithness, is the most northerly on the UK mainland.

The King has raised a dram to mark the official opening of the UK’s most northerly mainland whisky distillery.

Charles toured the 8 Doors Distillery in John O’Groats, Caithness, on Wednesday to celebrate the industry’s return to the area.

It marks his first official engagement in the region since becoming King, although the area is close to his heart given his work with the Castle of Mey Trust in memory of his grandmother.

The Castle of Mey, nearby, belonged to the late Queen Mother.

Royal visit to John O’Groats
Charles with distillery manager Ryan Sutherland (Robert MacDonald/PA)

The distillery opened its doors to the public in September, becoming the first to produce Scotch whisky in the Caithness village since 1837.

Crowds braved the rain to catch a glimpse of the King as he met distillery owners Kerry and Derek Campbell.

The couple said Charles showed a real interest in learning about their products during his tour, but was most interested in the people that keep the business running.

Mr Campbell said: “It was just a huge honour for me and Kerry. He is a great advocate for Caithness and it was a real privilege to have him here to officially open the distillery.”

His wife added: “What was really nice is that he took the time to chat with everybody that was here today.

“We couldn’t do what we do without a great team around us. The team have been part of our journey. As we built everything from scratch, it’s been a real team effort so it was nice to have everyone here to be a part of it.

“He was definitely interested in the people. I think that is what he took away most was what their story was and how they ended up working here.

Royal visit to John O’Groats
The King unveiled a plaque during his visit (Robert MacDonald/PA)

“We really appreciate that he took the time out of his busy schedule to come and open the distillery and it was great being able to showcase to him what we do.”

During his brief visit, Charles toured the premises, meeting members of staff in the shop and visitors centre, the main distillery and the warehouse.

To mark the occasion, he unveiled a commemorative plaque which will be put on display inside the distillery.

Tour guide Susan Dearness was thrilled to get the chance to meet the King.

She said: “He was lovely. He was asking about my experience with whisky and what I do. He also asked what people we have had here as I speak three languages.

“It didn’t feel like something he had been forced to do.”

Dressed in Highland attire, the King was in great spirits, smiling and joking with those he met along the way.

Royal visit to John O’Groats
Well-wishers greeted the King outside the distillery (Robert MacDonald/PA)

A whisky drinker himself, Charles appeared delighted to sample a number of the firm’s products, including its peated whisky – giving it the royal seal of approval.

After hearing about how the businesses came to fruition and how the whisky is distilled, the King was given the chance to lend a hand at filling a specially selected American oak cask.

He assisted distillery manager Ryan Sutherland in filling the cask before hammering in the bung to seal it.

As his visit drew to a close, Charles signed the visitor book before greeting the Campbells’ nieces and nephews, Mathew, Gregor and Chloe MacDonald, who presented him with a selection of hand-drawn pictures.

Despite the rain, Charles also took time to speak to local business owners and visit the village food and drink market.

More from Perspective

Get a free copy of our print edition


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Your email address will not be published. The views expressed in the comments below are not those of Perspective. We encourage healthy debate, but racist, misogynistic, homophobic and other types of hateful comments will not be published.