New distillery near 'Outlander' castle will be 'good for Falkirk and Scotland'

Blackness Bay Distillery, Blackness, Falkirk council area.
-Credit: (Image: Blackness Bay Distillery)

A new distillery is all set to open for business - just minutes away from one of Falkirk district's most iconic tourist attractions.

Blackness Bay Distillery will open in the village of Blackness, on the waterfront and very close to the famous 15th century castle which doubles as Fort William in the television series 'Outlander'.

Members of Falkirk Council' s licensing board welcomed the application by Sheena O'Rourke and her husband Colm, who is the landlord of the village's only pub, the Lobster Pot.

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The small craft distillery - which is already producing rum and is waiting for its first whisky to mature - will soon have a new website ready for visitors to book.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr O'Rourke said the venture was "a last hurrah" for him and wife, Sheena, who are now in their seventies.

"It's an adventure for us - we've been in the pub industry all our lives, but we're enjoying this!", he said.

The couple opened the Lobster Pot in 2019 - just before covid - giving the village pub new life after it had lain closed for more than ten years.

Alongside the pub were old buildings - once a brewhouse and distillery - that the couple have worked for the past two years to restore.

Inspired by the old buildings, Colm and Sheena thought making whisky down by the Forth would be something "really nice to do".

Using traditional Scottish / Irish twin pot stills, they have also spent 18 months learning the craft of artisan distilling.

Colm jokes that while his wife is very good at the technical side of distilling he is very good at the sampling.

"Between the two of us, and our learning over the last 18 months we seem to have got it quite well because people are enjoying it," he said.

"When I say artisan, that means we do everything from scratch from the raw materials," Colm explained.

"It's nothing like the big distilleries - we make about 60-100 bottles a batch."

Blackness Bay Distillery, Blackness, Falkirk Council area
Blackness Bay Distillery -Credit:Blackness Bay Distillery

The first whisky - made with malted barley from Alloa - has now been made but will need to mature for three years and a day before it can be called 'whisky'.

However, the new distillery will be selling 'new make spirit' - unmatured whisky - which cannot be called whisky but is increasingly popular as a drink.

They are also already producing their own rums, which are sold in the pub. These include 'Blackness Bay' white rum and a Jacobite dark rum they call 'Outlandish', as a nod to the famous castle nearby.

They also make a pink rum, with Scottish botanicals - roses, thistle buds and heather flowers - which they call 'Flower of Scotland'. With the new licence now in place, they can start to offer tours that will be bookable online in just a few weeks.

The licence also covers a small shop that will not just be open to the tourists. The plan is to combine the tours with a meal in the pub - which specialises in lobster - and the couple hope it will be another reason for visitors to Blackness Castle or walking the John Muir Way to spend more time in the village.

At the deputy convener of the licensing board, Councillor Bryan Deakin wished the new business well, as the premises licence was granted.

He said: "I think this is going to be good for tourism and good for Falkirk, for Scotland and for Blackness."

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