Eileen Ferguson and Alan Ferguson OBE
The announcement of Northumberland’s first whisky distillery in Glendale was greeted with unstinting local support and excitement when details emerged at the end of August.
During the two-week consultation period, over 2000 people visited the consultation exhibition in Wooler to learn more about the multi-million-pound project, which is set to create dozens of jobs. In addition, in the region of 750 people left comments, pledging their support, praising the proposals, and looking forward to seeing it become a reality.
The support for the Ad Gefrin Distillery has been so enthusiastic that the Ferguson family, who are behind the distillery, have announced they will open a permanent project exhibition on Wooler Market Place from October this year.
Eileen Ferguson, who is part of the family leading the project, thanked the people who came forward and shared their memories in the consultation, she said: “We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the level of support and enthusiasm that our concept has received, and we hope to take this project forward together as a community to definitively put Wooler on the map as a place which produces very fine whisky and a major tourism destination.
“On behalf of everyone involved in the Ad Gefrin Distillery, I would like to say a heart-felt thank you to the people of Wooler and everyone who we have met with for their unparalled support.”
This overwhelming enthusiasm provides Ad Gefrin with a firm foundation as it heads towards its next major landmark – the submission for planning permission. It is hoped that the distillery and visitor centre will open its doors by 2020. As time is needed to lay down a malt whisky, the full release of the Ad Gefrin Single Malt is not expected until 2028.
The way ahead looks equally exciting to the Ferguson family, which has run businesses in Northumberland for four generations. To be located in the former Redpath’s Yard on South Road, Wooler, the distillery is set to become both a major visitor attraction and key local employer. This multi-million-pound investment will reinvigorate the local economy, help to retain young people in its workforce, and regenerate a site which has been disused for over twenty years.
Chris Ferguson, who will be developing the project along with Eileen, added: “The passion that we have seen from everyone for us to create something really exciting and innovative in Wooler has been tremendous. We are thrilled by the encouragement we have received and all the memories and historic information people have shared about the site and town. We are already building up a tremendous archive of material which will be invaluable in sharing the story of our area as we send our whisky around the world.”
The Ferguson family has a vision for localisation and in addition to using the finest local malted barley, they also intend to use and work with Northumberland-based companies, and the visitor centre will feature local artists and craftspeople.
Alan Ferguson OBE said: “The response has not just been coming in from the people of Wooler but also across the whole North East region. Whilst we obviously believe in the project, to get such overwhelming support wherever we go is much more than we envisaged at the outset.”
The site on the banks of the Glen was a place of gathering and community. The new distillery in Wooler aims to become a similar meeting spot in the 21st Century.
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