Ambergate distillery to open first batch of whisky barrels after crowdfunding campaign brings in £1.3m

A pioneering whisky distillery in Ambergate is preparing to finally open its first barrels for sale after a three year wait, and a recent £1.3million crowdfunding campaign suggests the spirit will be in high demand.

By Ed Dingwall
Thursday, 29th April 2021, 2:06 pm

Staff at White Peak Distillery, which has revived the former Johnson & Nephew Wire Works complex within the Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage Site, will begin sampling the single malt whisky within days.

If all goes to plan, around 50 casks will be sampled by mid-summer to select those which will be bottled as the first batch of Wire Works whisky, expected to go on sale in October.

A spokesman for the business said: “These ex-bourbon barrels from Heaven Hills Distillery in Texas reach their first ‘whisky’ birthday in May, an exciting time for the distillery, and which will also mark the month when we fill our 1,000th cask.”

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White Peak Distillery co-founders Claire and Max Vaughan. (Photo: Rod Kirkpatrick/F Stop Press)

Those lucky enough to try it already include the judges for the Wizards of Whisky Awards, who awarded double gold to early samples in 2020 and 2021.

The business was established by Max and Claire Vaughan in 2016, but the first two years were spent getting the buildings operational again, with cold water from the Derwent piped in to help cool a pair of giant stills in a sustainable way.

They have also sought to innovate in terms of flavour, using fresh, live yeast in its 96-hour fermentations, which is collected each week from a brewery in the Peak District.

With promising signs for the whisky, a successful line of Shining Cliff gin already on sale and tours proving a hit with Peak District visitors, the distillery has just closed a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Head distiller, Shaun Smith, 32, checks on the stills. (Photo: Rod Kirkpatrick/F Stop Press)

991 investors contributed more than £1.3million for an nine per cent equity stake – having started with an original target of £500,000 – putting one estimate for the total value of the business at more than £13m.

The cash injection will help fund the costs of growing its staff and resources for promotion, sales and marketing and distribution of its future whisky releases.

A recruitment drive for a new marketing and e-commerce managers closes on Friday, April 30.

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