Hopes that new distillery will bring walkers to country estate

From left: Allan Walker, Jane Gentleman, Sir Michael Strang Steel, Emma Gentleman and Susan Myatt at the cutting of the ribbon. Not in picture: David Myatt.
From left: Allan Walker, Jane Gentleman, Sir Michael Strang Steel, Emma Gentleman and Susan Myatt at the cutting of the ribbon. Not in picture: David Myatt.

The Borders’ newest distillery was officially opened on Saturday, by the man who hopes it will help increase footfall in his estate on the outskirts of Selkirk.

Sir Michael Strang-Steel, owner of the Philiphaugh Estate, cut the ribbon at the facility, which has been brought back to life by Selkirk Distillery.

According to co-owner Allan Walker, it’s the perfect base for their operations, including the distillation of their prime products Reivers Gin and Bannock Gin, as well as their latest venture with Selkirk company EV8 Life, which has borne gins and rum made with hemp and cannabis oil.

Picture gallery: Opening of new distillery

There is also space for Allan and the team – which includes his wife Jane Gentleman, and friends David and Sue Myatt – to experiment with new flavours. Saturday’s opening was the perfect opportunity to thank the many people who he said had helped them so far.

He said: “Without all these people promoting us, talking about us, and being a part of us, we wouldn’t be here.

“And thanks to Sir Michael, we have the first legal still in Selkirkshire.”

Sir Michael said: “I’d like to congratulate everyone associated with this project, they’ve put in a tremendous amount of work.

“For us, it’s a very exciting project, as one of the things we have tried to do in the estate is to increase the footfall, and this fits in well with that as we are thinking of creating a new walk, from the Waterwheel Cafe to the distillery, and then on to the gardens.

“We have been working closely with Alan as we hope a lot of the produce we have in the gardens will go into his gins ... he’s already had rhubarb!

“We thought that when we planted juniper bushes 20 years ago we were doing a great job restoring native woodlands up the Yarrow Valley, but never even imagined that we would be supplying juniper berries to the gin, which we hope to do.

“I have noted that Allan and the team have been donating to the Haig poppy fund, and it’s heartening that they are working with another company from Selkirk to make the gins based on hemp.

“I am thrilled to host this building here, which they have done a good job of doing it up as it was in a pretty poor state.

Also at the opening was a group of belly dancers from Selkirk’s twin town of Plattling, who just happened to be performing at the Haining later that day.