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Thursday 30 October 2014: An exciting weekend

This weekend the Annadale Distillery starts to distill whisky for the first time since it closed in 1919.

I was there this morning to attend a rural round table event for Dumfries & Galloway SMEs who have used the SFC Interface project to get help from academia for their businesses. Annandale has done so in various areas but I hadn't realised till I got there that the meeting was also a sneak preview of the opening of the distillery which is imminent.

Professor David Thomson , originally a Doonhamer, has owned the place since 2007 , when it was a derelict ruin. There was a huge amount of activity taking place today , finishing off a whole range of things that have to be done before the stills will be fired up for the first run of the new product.

I was bowled over by what he and his team have achieved and it was extraordinary to be taken into what is a completely rebuilt, newly equipped still house and see the mash tuns and the stills unused but ready for business. Plus an empty spirit safe in which clear liquid will shortly flow, for the first time.

The restoration and reconstruction has been done beautifully using real imagination and creativity. I can't want to go back to see the visitor centre up and running (that opens on the 15th of November) nor to taste the whisky (actually two of them - a peated and an unpeated ) though I will have too wait a lot longer for that.

After Annan I went on to speak (briefly) at a conference for Chaplains in FE which was being held in the City of Glasgow College and then made the final key note at the first ever International El SistemaTeachers Conference which was taking place at the Raploch Community Campus in Scotland which is home to the first System Project in Scotland, The Big Noise. There are now two others as well.

A long day on the road, but a fascinating one in a country full of good things happening.


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