Northumberland National Park bosses discuss plans for anticipated influx of distillery visitors

Bosses at Northumberland National Park have confirmed they are working on plans for new car parks to serve what is believed to be the county’s first whisky distillery.

By James Harrison
Friday, 17th December 2021, 1:22 pm
Alan and Eileen Ferguson, owners of the Ad Gefrin distillery and visitor centre under construction in Wooler.
Alan and Eileen Ferguson, owners of the Ad Gefrin distillery and visitor centre under construction in Wooler.

The multi-million pound Ad Gefrin development was announced in 2018, with a slew of projects intended to create jobs and attract visitors to the area.

And although the town lies just outside the boundary of the protected zone, chiefs are already preparing for an expected influx of visitors to the new attraction.

“In the north of the national park, Wooler is going to have a new distillery, hopefully next summer or autumn,” said Tony Gates, chief executive of the national park since 2005.

“Off the back of that we’re expecting increased visitor interest in the Wooler area and particularly in some of the in and around the national park, including the Ad Gefrin site, after which the distillery is to be named.

“The national park [and other organisations involved] are having active discussions about how we can enhance visitor facilities in that area, including car parking, and facilities which will allow us to enhance our outreach and education based on the historical environment of that area.

“I don’t have any details at this stage, but it’s quite positive and I hope to be able to bring something firmer in due course.”

Work on the distillery was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, but is now under way and believed to be on course to open in late 2022.

The project has so far received £3m from the Borderlands Growth Deal, making it the first scheme approved by the government funding initiative to break ground.

It has also been given £1m from the North East Rural Growth Network and £600,000 through Northumberland County Council.

The redevelopment of the former Redpath’s Yard, in Wooler, is expected to create 50 jobs, with a bistro and other retail and events spaces also in the pipeline.

A single malt whisky slated to be produced from the site is scheduled to be on sale about eight years after it opens.

The scheme takes its name from the nearby Gefrin, discovered in 1949, a huge complex of timber halls which was once a summer palace used by the seventh century kings and queens of the Anglo Saxon kingdom of Northumbria.

James Harrison