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Work starts on Durham’s first city centre distillery

Work is well underway on a first of its kind city centre home for Durham Distillery expected to open in early summer 2020.

A 10 year lease has been agreed with Prince Bishops Shopping Centre for the former Royal Bank of Scotland branch on High Street, and the whole project will mean close to £1m of new investment into the city.

The 5,000 sq. ft. space is undergoing a full refurbishment into a working distillery, and once complete will create local jobs with roles including a distillery manager and distiller.

From here the distillery will produce its popular gin and vodka products, and start production of the North East’s first whisky. The new premises will be open to the public for tours and tastings. There will also be a shop and functions space for occasions from birthday parties to meetings and team building days.

Coinciding with the location announcement, a Crowdfunding campaign has launched offering people the chance to be a part of whisky history whilst helping to fund the new distillery.

Investments start from £10 for an Investment Certificate which will entitle holders to discounts on tours and products from the shop in the new distillery for one year. Additionally bottles, cases and casks of Durham Whisky can be purchased which will be ready to drink three years and one day after entering production.

The distillery is also preparing to move into a Christmas shop opposite its new premises from 23 November. This will be the fourth consecutive year for the pop-up which will sell the distillery’s full range of products and the whisky packages.

Jon Chadwick, owner of Durham Distillery said: “We are really excited to make this big announcement and see signs up letting everyone know where our new home will be. Prince Bishops approached us earlier in the year as there were severe delays out of our hands with the riverside location we’d hoped to relocate to. Since signing the lease there has been a lot of work with our architects and designers to create something really special for Durham, and the fit out is well underway.

“The new setting not only benefits from a central location with passing traffic to and from the Cathedral, it’s larger and means we can be really imaginative when it comes to things like visitor experience and scope for expansion in the future. We’re bringing a completely new offering to the retail scene at Prince Bishops.”

Jess Tomlinson, the distillery’s head distiller added: “The move not only means we will have the space to increase production of gin and vodka, we can also start production of the first run of Durham Whisky. It’s a first for the region which we hope the city will get behind and help to support through our Crowdfunder where the final packages are now available. We’ll also be going into development of some other new products after the move.

“We’re not just building a distillery, we’re creating a visitor attraction to bring something different to the city’s leisure experience. Durham Distillery will be a hub where local people and tourists can learn about and taste real honest spirt, shop local, attend and host functions, and come along to our own calendar of events. There’s so much potential and we can’t wait to open the doors to people next year.”

Richard Toynbee, centre manager at Prince Bishops Shopping Centre added: “Durham Distillery will be a very welcome addition to the Prince Bishops line-up. It is vitally important to the city centre that businesses offer our customers a really good experience and together we show commitment to retail and leisure investment for the future. We are actively encouraging local and regional enterprises to join us at Prince Bishops which is a great opportunity for jobs and the future prosperity of the city centre.”

Helen Brain, commercial partner at Square One Law, assisted in securing the successful leasing agreement alongside Harlands Accountants. Durham Distillery was the first emerging business to be invested in from the Finance Durham Fund, receiving a £250,000 investment to assist its relocation and production of Durham Whisky.

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