Devonians try to drive Dartmoor whisky plan onto rocks

Distillery needs a pagoda like a whole in the roof

Devonians are up in arms after plans for a whisky, or possibly whiskey, distillery on Dartmoor were derided as “too Scottish”. Or possibly too Japanese.. Or maybe even too Irish.*

Princetown Distillers has submitted plans for a £4m hooch factory in the town of Princetown, slap bang in the middle of the Dartmoor National Park. They reckon the combination of moor-ish water and evaporation beating low average temperature is perfect for producing the Scottish - or possibly Irish - national drink. They also hold out the possibility of jobs for locals. And a visitors’ centre.

The only problem is it seems Dartmoor is not in Scotland, or Ireland, and the locals are not Scots, or Irish. Or Japanese.

Both the very idea of a distillery, and the specific design, have gone down like a ton of bricks – or perhaps a cheap Scotch – amongst the locals.

A key issue seems to be the vision for the distillery itself, which apparently features a distinctive “Pagoda” design, according to The Times. This apparently is a feature of Scottish distilleries - not to mention a large part of Japan.

In a written objection, one wrote: “The design is based on traditional Scottish distilleries as we were told at the council meeting.

“There is nothing in the cultural history of Princetown connected with whisky distilling," the local person spluttered. "Although it does harbour a stinking eyesore of a brewery that does nothing to enhance our Dartmoor village, so perhaps a lesson could be learnt from that aberration.”

Another resident thundered: “The pagoda, whilst typical to Scottish distilleries, is not typical here and [is] inappropriate to a building in Princetown or anywhere on Dartmoor.”

The Times also quoted Graeme Bowie, the distillery manager at Tomintoul-Glenlivet Distillery, Speyside, who explained, the “pagoda” feature traditionally aided in ventilation when Scots distilleries malted their own barley.

He helpfully added, “I wouldn’t say pagodas are traditionally Scottish, you get them in Japan for example.

Of course, the whisky makers might ease their path by designing a building somewhat more in keeping with the local architecture. We’re thinking high Victorian design, with high walls, classic narrow windows, and ideally no en suite facilities. Just like the architectural gem that is Dartmoor prison, conveniently placed in... Princetown, Devon. ®


The Times' report (subscription required) uses both Whisky and Whiskey interchangeably. The latter is usually applied to Irish Whisky. You could make a big deal out of it, but then again we’re talking about a product which has not got particular history in the area.

After all, if our Sunday TV viewing is anything to go by, West Country sorts clearly prefer brandy, ideally dragged off a beach under cover of darkness after luring a French man-o-war onto treacherous rocks.®

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