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Powered by Bulb: Ncn’ean whisky distillery

Get to know Bulb member Annabel, who uses renewable energy to power her dream of building a sustainable whisky distillery in Scotland.

At Bulb, we love getting to know our members. They’re often using our renewable energy to power interesting projects. In this post, get to know Annabel Thomas. Annabel founded Ncn’ean Distillery in Morvern, Scotland. Ncn’ean is a new distillery, bringing a fresh, sustainable approach to making Scotch. See the story here:

Starting Ncn'ean

Annabel left London to follow her dream of creating a new kind of whisky. Over the past two years, she built Ncn’ean Distillery. The distillery is housed in an old farmstead on the remote Morvern peninsula in the west of Scotland. It’s the furthest west you can go on the mainland of Britain! The distillery looks out to the Isle of Mull, across the sea.   The whisky industry has a rich heritage that Annabel is proud to draw on. But it’s also an industry where things are done the way they’ve always been done. Annabel looks at everything through fresh eyes. She’s young and female, and wants to change our perceptions of who whisky is for, as well as produce something that tastes a little different.

"Nothing goes to waste"

Annabel aims to make the whole process of creating Ncn’ean whisky as sustainable as possible. The distillery uses 100% organic barley to make its whisky. She uses spring water in the still. Waste products are used as much as possible in the process. Left-over grain becomes food for the farm’s cows. Nothing goes to waste. And, she’s powered by Bulb’s 100% renewable electricity to boot.   Energy is a vital part of the business. As Annabel says, none of it would happen without power. From the machines that turn the mash tun rakes to the pumps and boiler, every part of the process needs power. And we’re proud to be supplying that energy. We love that Annabel experiments with the traditional whisky distilling process. And that she’s innovating ethically too.

"Queen of the spirits"

Ncn’ean takes its name from a Gaelic goddess, the Queen of the Spirits. She lived in the woods and protected nature. She was also an independent spirit who walked her own path. Like Annabel, we think that’s a great attitude to take to heart.   The spirit they’re making at Ncn’ean has to be matured for 3 years and a day before it can be sold as ‘whisky’. Although Annabel’s first barrels of whisky won’t be ready until April 2020, she is already taking orders. Like all good things, Ncn’ean whisky will come to those who wait. It has already been five years in the planning and building to get this far. We’re just as amazed as Annabel at how far she’s already come. And we’re excited to follow the rest of her journey.

Visiting the distillery

You can visit Ncn’ean distillery and go on a guided tour with Annabel’s team. We can vouch for the cupcakes and cocktails at the end.

Janine & Keith run Ach na Criche B&B, a short walk away from the distillery. We slept like little lambs at Ach nc Criche, and Keith is a great cook. You can book to stay here. There’s lots to see in the area. In the summer season, there’s a weekly water taxi between Drimnin, home of the distillery, and Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. With its famous harbour lined with colourful houses, Tobermory is the main town on the Isle of Mull. From there, you can take boat trips to watch whales, dolphins and seals. Inland, there are many nature tours to see wildlife like ospreys and red deer.

The Whitehouse Restaurant (open April to October) in nearby Lochaline specialises in delicious local produce. It won the Good Food Guide’s Local Restaurant of the Year for Scotland in 2017.

The Bulb Community is full of interesting people. Are you a Bulb member with a story to tell? Drop us a line at - we’d love to hear from you. We might just feature you next!