PRINCE Charles, the Duke of Rothesay, has given his royal seal of approval to two Moray projects aimed at boosting the Speyside whisky industry.
He arrived in Rothes on Tuesday, April 16, to open the Helius CoRDe biomass combined heat and power plant and then the nearby bottling hall at Glen Grant Distillery.
He was welcomed by representatives from the industry, as well as Moray dignitaries and children from Rothes Primary School.
The Helius CoRDe plant, in North Street, is the first of its kind, and uses by-products from nearby single malt whisky distilleries to generate 8.32 megawatts of electricity – enough to power an estimated 9000 homes.
A joint venture part-owned by Diageo, Edrington, Chivas, Inver House, John Dewar’s, Campari and Ben Riach, the plant also produces the animal feed supplement pot ale syrup. It employs 26 people, and around 160 workers were employed during its construction.
Children and staff from the Rothes Primary nursery, as well as the school’s captains and vice-captains, were among the first to greet the Duke of Rothesay at the energy plant.
Alan Lyons, chairman of Helius CoRDe, described the Duke of Rothesay’s visit as “a delight”.
Mr Lyons said: “We all thoroughly enjoyed it. He spoke to everyone, and he was really interested in the process and what we are doing. It was very exciting for everyone involved.”
After visiting the new energy plant, the duke walked to Glen Grant Distillery to conduct the official opening of its new bottling facility.
It means that Glen Grant, which has been distilling in Rothes for more than 170 years, is home to the largest distillery bottling hall in Speyside.
After a tour of the plant, the duke unveiled a plaque and chatted to more children from Rothes Primary School who had gathered at the distillery.
Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said it had been a pleasure to welcome the Duke of Rothesay to Speyside and to demonstrate the investment in the Scotch whisky industry.
“Helius CoRDe is a ground-breaking venture and a prime example of working in collaboration with local industry to secure sustainability,” Mr Hewitt said.
“It will benefit the environment and farmers who can access its animal feed for their livestock. It is another step on the way to the Scotch whisky industry meeting the ambitious targets laid out in its environmental strategy – the first industry-wide strategy of its kind in Scotland.
“The Glen Grant bottling hall secures jobs in the area and will help support the supply chain which relies on the Scotch whisky industry in Speyside.
“There is great optimism in the future of the Scotch whisky industry, with at least £2 billion committed to investment over the next three to four years.”
Mr Hewitt said the duke had been “extremely impressed” by what he had seen, and been “fascinated by everything”.
Mr Hewitt said: “It was great to see how much he loves talking to the operatives. He was fascinated by what they were doing.
“He thoroughly enjoyed his visit. He does drink whisky, and loves to show his support for a very Scottish industry. He left with a bottle or two, and no doubt he will go to his cabinet and enjoy that nice dram when he has his feet up.
“It was wonderful to have the whole of Rothes Primary School here as well, and to see how he paid attention to the kids.”
The new bottling plant has created two new full-time jobs, and is capable of producing up to 12,000 bottles per hour.
Dennis Malcolm, master distiller at Glen Grant, said the distillery can now monitor its whisky throughout the production process.
“It’s a milestone in the history of Glen Grant,” he said. “We are in full control of the quality, and that is the most important thing.
“I always say that people, passion and product make a good single malt, and we have that at Glen Grant. We now have it from the barley to the bottle, and so everything should be perfect.
“Prince Charles is a whisky drinker and he asked many, many questions about the bottling.”
Speyside Glenlivet councillor Pearl Paul, who lives in Rothes, described it as a good day for the village.
“It means more jobs for Rothes,” she said. “The old combination works was getting to the stage that it was not profitable any longer, and it is great to see the new company and the old combine to come up with something new and viable which protects jobs.
“For Glen Grant, it’s great to see that the whisky starts here in the burn and goes through the whole natural process in one premises, and I think that’s fantastic. I commend the companies.”