The announcement of the opening of Northumberland’s first whisky distillery in Glendale was greeted with unstinting local support and excitement when details emerged at the end of August. During the two week consultation period, over 2000 people visited the consultation exhibition in Wooler, and at the Glendale Show to learn more about this multi - million pound project which will create dozens of jobs. In addition, in the region of 750 people left comments, pledging their support, praising the proposals, and looking forward to seeing it become a reality.
The support for the Ad Gefrin Distillery has been so enthusiastic that the Ferguson family have announced that they will open a permanent Project Exhibition on Wooler Market Place from October.
In keeping with the “spirit” of the age, Ad Gefrin was the regional news story of the day and immediately received countless shares and followers on social media, with praise and comments coming from New Zealand to Northumberland. Comments included: “Thank you so very much for a creative and innovative plan to enhance our community. Jobs, tourism, a boost to our local retailers and traders plus encouraging new investment. Well done to the Ferguson family.” In the same vein, another said: “This is the best news Wooler has had in a generation. Thank you for having the courage and the imagination to do this. All power and strength to you. Go Ad Gefrin.”
Eileen Ferguson, one of the family leading the project, adds her own thanks to the many people who came forward and shared their memories in the consultation: “We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the level of support and enthusiasm that our concept has received, and we hope to take this project forward together as a community to definitively put Wooler on the map as
a place which produces very fine whisky and a major tourism destination.”
“On behalf of everyone involved in the Ad Gefrin Distillery, I would like to say a heart-felt thank you to the people of Wooler and everyone who we have met with for their unparalled support.”
This overwhelming enthusiasm provides Ad Gefrin with a firm foundation as it heads towards its next major landmark – the submission for planning permission. It is hoped that the distillery and visitor centre will open its doors by 2020. As time is needed to lay down a malt whisky, the full release of the Ad Gefrin Single Malt is not expected until 2028.
The way ahead looks equally exciting to the Ferguson family, which has run businesses in Northumberland for four generations. To be located in the former Redpath’s Yard on South Road, Wooler, the distillery
is set to become both a major visitor attraction and key local employer. This multi-million pound investment will reinvigorate the local economy, help to retain young people in its workforce, and regenerate
a site which has been disused for over twenty years.
Chris Ferguson, who will be developing the project along with Eileen Ferguson, adds: “The passion that we have seen from everyone for us to create something really exciting and innovative in Wooler has been tremendous. We are thrilled by the encouragement we have received and all the memories and historic information people have shared about the site and town. We are already building up a tremendous archive of material which will be invaluable in sharing the story of our area as we send our whisky around the world.”
The Ferguson family has a vision for localisation and in addition to using the finest local malted barley, they also intend to use and work with Northumberland-based companies, and the visitor centre will
feature local artists and craftspeople.
Alan Ferguson OBE, also commented regarding the feedback:
“The response has not just been coming in from the people of Wooler but also across the whole North East region. Whilst we obviously believe in the project, to get such overwhelming support wherever we go is much more than we envisaged at the outset. It was even the topic of conversation at recent North East Chamber events at both Durham Cathedral and Wynyard Hall, both quite a distance from Wooler.”
“It is heart-warming that the whole region is getting behind this exciting project. As you know, it is a long process to get to the final product but rest assured, we are doing all we can to keep moving this plan forward.”
Ad Gefrin takes its name from the Anglo-Saxon palace below Yeavering Bell. Both names take their meaning from the “hill of the goats”, which still roam the slopes today. The site on the banks of the Glen was
a place of gathering and community. The new distillery in Wooler aims to become a similar meeting spot in the 21st Century.