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Grain producers agree Fettercairn Distillery supply deal

SIGNED AND SEALED: Grain producers Kevin Carnegie, left, and Finlay Russel sign the first 200 Club cask at Fettercairn Distillery.

Almost 200 farmers within a 50-mile radius of Fettercairn have committed to supplying their local distillery with 100% of the barley it requires to produce its single malt whisky.

Around 8,000 tonnes of grain – Laureate, Diablo and Sassy – will be purchased by Scotgrain and malted at Arbroath Maltings in a move which many would like to see adopted by other distilleries around Scotland.

However, while the “200 Club” arrangement guarantees transparency and a reduced carbon footprint for the distiller, participating farmers are not being offered a premium for their product.

Instead, they say they are “hopeful” that the partnership will lead to higher prices in future for a guaranteed supply of grain.

Distillery manager Stewart Walker said producers were being paid a “fair price” and the arrangement gave farmers a sense of community and ownership of the local brand.
“It’s a massive thing that we’re all working together on this,” he added.

Owen Southwood (L) general manager of Scotgrain and Stewart Walker, Distillery Manager at Fettercairn Distillery.

“It would be good to see other distilleries take a similar approach going forward.”

One of the barley suppliers is Kevin Carnegie of Balrownie Farm, Brechin, who produces around 1,000 tonnes annually and has committed to supplying 200 tonnes to the club.

“I’d like to think it’s a long-term arrangement and other farmers will wish they’re in it in future,” he said.

“If the distillers get more for the whisky, we’ll hopefully get more for our barley.”
Charlie Strang Steel, who runs Sluie farm, less than 15 miles from Fettercairn, believes the time is right for such an initiative.

“It’s really important to have the distillery using Scottish barley from some of the amazing farms in the area, rather than taking it across the border or in a boat from somewhere else.

“We are able to farm to a very high standard in Scottish quality-assured crops especially as more and more people are looking for local produce.

“Scottish whisky should use Scottish barley – it’s as simple as that for me and it’s great to support local people and business.”

David Innes and his son Matthew farm 560 acres at Mains of Fordoun.

He said: “We’re proud that we’re supplying the distillery – it’s good to know Fettercairn is using grain from the immediate area. We love the idea that if you give someone a bottle of whisky, you can tell them you helped grow the barley, the raw material.”

All the producers who have signed up are being invited to sign their farm names on the first 200 Club cask. The distillers hasn’t committed to when it will go on sale, but the youngest Fettercairn to be marketed is a 12-year-old.

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