MULTI-million pound distillery expansion plans have sparked hopes of a jobs boost for Tain.
Glenmorangie Distillery has confirmed it hopes to invest in a new still house which will increase its production capacity in a bid to keep up with growing global demand.
The new expansion would increase the number of stills at the distillery by two and also include a building providingextra mashing and fermentation facilities.
It would be located next to the existing still house on the site of a disused grain store.
The move is expected to lead to new jobs once the expansion is up and running, although no specific figures have been released.
If approved the Glenmorangie Company hopes to start work this year with a view to opening the expansion in 2019. The distillery would run as normal during construction and remain open to visitors.
Marc Hoellinger, president and CEO of The Glenmorangie Company, said: "It is a testament to the success of Glenmorangie, and to the increasing appreciation of our whisky creators’ vision and expertise, that we are able to plan with confidence for the future.
"We believe the proposed investment will support the distillery’s growth and ensure that many more discerning single malt whisky drinkers can discover the delights of our exceptional Highland single malt Scotch whisky."
The company has promised to hold a consultation meeting with Tain residents "in the coming weeks" so they can hear about the expansion plans first-hand.
Business leaders have welcomed the news.
"The success of the whisky sector has been phenomenal. It’s a key export and such a contributor to the economy," said Fraser Grieve, regional director for the Highlands & Islands at the Scottish Council for Development and Industry. "This shows that whisky companies throughout the region are investing for long-term growth. Scottish whisky looks to continue to have a bright future and continue to have a big role in the economy in the north."
Members of the Royal Burgh of Tain Community Council have no stance yet, as the plans have yet to be processed by Highland Council.
However, chairman David Macdonald added that council members were grateful for a recent opportunity to look over the proposals and praised the distillery over moves to hold a public drop-in event next month to discuss any questions Tain residents may have. "They are not obliged to but are doing so as good neighbours," he said.
He added that the community council was supportive of separate plans by the distillery to install a gas storage facility as it looks to power its site using compressed natural gas.
If approved the facility would be built on the other side of the A9 from the distillery and have the potential to supply Tain with a gas supply in the future.