Fettercairn Distillery is recruiting farmers located within a 50-mile radius of its site to supply barley exclusively for distilling.
The distillery says agreements with more than 1oo farmers are being developed to ensure an exclusive supply of barley grown in the local area for making its whisky.
“We already source a fair bit of barley from the fields around Fettercairn, but we want to increase our supply with more local farmers within the region,” said distillery manager, Stewart Walker.
“So far we are finding the local farming community is very keen to partner with us. With our own water source and local supply of both barley and responsibly sourced Scottish oak in the future, we will reach our goal of single estate whiskies for sure.”
Fasque Estate, which has land surrounding the distillery, is one of the first farming businesses to sign up to the new scheme.
The estate’s farm manager, John Harrison, said it had agreed to supply 400 tonnes of Laureate spring barley to the distillery at the beginning of next year.
The grain will be stored on the 9,000-acre estate, which carries approximately 2,750 acres of arable cropping, until it is needed by the distillery.
It will then be sent to Bairds Malt in Arbroath to be processed into malt, before being delivered to Fettercairn Distillery to be made into whisky.
Mr Harrison said the estate had a long-standing relationship with the distillery.
He said: “We spoke about how crazy it is that they buy grain from all over the place and how they don’t really know where the barley is coming from.
“Hopefully it builds into something a bit bigger. It’s about trying to keep things local and developing relationships with other businesses.”
The partnership between Fettercairn Distillery and Fasque Estate goes beyond the supply of barley, and the distillery has planted more than 13,000 oak trees on the estate to coincide with its plans to produce single estate Scottish oak matured single malt whisky.
The plans, led by the distillery’s whisky maker Greg Glass, have involved numerous trials using casks made from wind-felled and responsibly sourced Scottish oak, and the first Fettercairn Scottish Oak bottling will be available to buy next year.
Mr Walker said: “The Fettercairn Forest Project is the start of something extremely special.
“We are literally laying down roots for our future whisky making, which continues our well-established Fettercairn philosophy of exploration, innovation, and breaking through conventions in search of standout whiskies.
“We call it entire craft and it takes us to a point where the water source, the barley and the Scottish oak are all visible from the distillery.”
To mark the planting of the new oak forest, the distillery has commissioned environmental artist Rob Mulholland to create a sculpture.
Mr Mulholland said: “My aim is to deepen the emotional connection between the people and this captivating land and create something that will still have relevance in 200 years when these trees will stand proud and tall; a legacy that can stand for even longer.”
The sculpture will be unveiled next month.