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Get to Know: Kingsbarns Distillery & Visitor Centre

Based just 20 minutes from St Andrews, Kingsbarns is one of the country’s newest distilleries.

With both a gin and whisky distillery on site, the visitor centre makes for a fascinating day out for both spirit aficionados and those simply looking to experience a modern, working distillery at its finest.

We caught up with Scott Robertson, Visitor Centre & Business Development Manager, to talk about all things gin and whisky, and why Kingsbarns is a must-visit all year round, whether you’re a tourist, a local or if you have just moved in to a luxury apartment at The Walled Gardens.

What’s the Kingsbarns story?

Kingsbarns is a fairly new distillery, only opening its doors in 2014. Douglas Clement, a former local golf caddie at our neighbouring Kingsbarns Golf Links, spotted a gap in the market for a distillery and visitor centre by the home of golf way back in 2008. The Wemyss family, one of Scotland’s oldest families, whose businesses are led by William Wemyss and are based in Edinburgh, played a crucial role in turning his dream into reality. We started distilling our whisky in 2015. It takes at least three years to mature before you can legally bottle whisky, so this year will mark a massive milestone for Kingsbarns.

What makes you unique?

Visitors can experience the sensory rooms in the visitor centre. Our aromatron is a selection of scent-filled horns for our visitors.

We also have the Gin Cottage on site with Darnley’s Gin. Being able to offer both gin and whisky tours on site is something we are really proud of. Gin drinkers receive a sample of all three of our gins at the end of our tour - Original, Spiced and Navy Spiced - while those partial to a dram can try one of four award-winning blended malts.

What is the most interesting thing about the company?
There are many interesting things, but I think right now it has to be the fact that our whisky will be ready at the end of this year. It has been three years in the making so it is all very exciting. It should be on shelves just in time for Christmas.

What is something many people don’t know about the company?

Our location in Fife plays a big part in the production of our whisky. We are based on Cambo Estate and use water that comes from a borehole 100metres below the distillery, and barley from the Wemyss family farm in the production process.

We also try to support local businesses where possible. Our café has a variety of different local brands present for visitors to enjoy. We have built up good relationships by regularly attending farmers markets and food festivals such as Crail Food Festival and the Bowhouse market. Fife has so many fantastic food businesses.

What can people expect when visiting you?
Those taking the whisky tour can expect to learn all about the history of Kingsbarns from our enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff. We are so lucky to have such a great bunch working for us; we have students who are members of the Whisky Association at St Andrews University and those who have been in the industry for years. We have tours in multiple languages and even have drams from around the country, not just from here, for people to try. If you are visiting, make sure to catch our film with Charles MacLean in the visitor centre.

What is new for the business?

We are currently developing a small batch of limited gin that include seaweed from local shores. We are still confirming names and details so don’t want to give too much away just yet!

When is the best time to visit?
All year round! The weather in May is really nice – you can sit outside after your tour and enjoy the sunshine. However, in winter you can also enjoy a warming dram.

What is it like to work in St Andrews?

We are between St Andrews and East Neuk, where there are four or five villages producing outstanding produce including fresh seafood. We get visitors stopping in on their way to St Andrews from these areas and vice-versa. The atmosphere is always lively.

What are the people of St Andrews like?

There is such a mix of international tourists, students and locals in the area throughout the year. It’s a great community and everyone is so friendly.

What is your favourite thing about St Andrews?
St Andrews is a small town but has a lot to offer. You can find lots of big brand shops dotted along the high street, blended with some great quirky, independent stores. You then obviously have the golf courses and East Sands beach. The Fife Coastal Path is also great for walkers – we get quite a few visitors come in during their journey around the coast.

Where is the best view in St Andrews?
East Sands without a doubt. It is what most people recognise about St Andrews and it’s like something you would see on a postcard. There is also a lovely view from the café at the golf museum. The view out over the course is breathtaking - it’s God’s country.

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