Kirkjuvagr gin will soon be moving to Orkney Distilling’s brilliant new distillery and visitor centre

Work on a new seafront distillery and visitor centre in Orkney’s largest town is nearing completion ahead of its planned opening early next year.

Up to 10 jobs are expected to be created once the facility, being developed by Orkney Distilling in Kirkwall, opens.

Production of the company’s award-winning Kirkjuvagr gin will move there from the mainland and the firm’s local owners, Stephen and Aly Kemp, also plan to start producing whisky in the coming years.

Old warehouses were demolished at the site in February to make way for the distillery building.

Stephen says construction work is progressing well and the company looks forward to moving into its new base early next year.

He added: “We are just finishing the external works now and over the next couple of months we will be doing all the internal stuff.

“That will include installing small gin stills to start with. The following year, we are going to be putting in all the infrastructure for making whisky. We will have a rolling programme for two to three years after the building is ready.”

The Kemps formed Orkney Distilling last year and Kirkjuvagr, named after the Norse word for Kirkwall and created using botanicals from the islands, was launched in August 2016.

The company was one of a number of Scottish gin makers to secure deals to supply 70 Co-op food stores throughout Scotland this summer. The retail chain said it was responding to what has been dubbed the “ginnaissance,” which has seen record demand for the drink, with sales out-performing the wider spirits market and surging nearly 15% over the past year.

The Kemps said the contract came at a key time in the development of their business, raising awareness of the product and opening up new markets.

Another deal this month saw Orkney Distilling join forces with the custodians of historic Rosslyn Chapel, in Midlothian, to produce a new gin, named the Prince of Orkney.

Marking links with Sir William St Clair, the third Prince of Orkney, who founded the chapel in 1446, the gin will be sold at its visitor centre to help pay for the upkeep of the building.

Kirkjuvagr was also recognised at the inaugural Scottish Gin Awards, with a bronze medal in the distilled gin of the year category.