Topping out at The Cairn


The traditional “topping out” ceremony, which marks the completion of external construction has taken place at The Cairn Distillery at Grantown-on-Spey.

The Cairn is a second distillery for Gordon & MacPhail, the family firm based in Moray, and appropriately, it was a bottle of Benromach which was used for the ceremony, acknowledging the company’s first distillery at Forres.

In a tradition thought to have been introduced by the Vikings, the topping-out ceremony is used to mark the installation of the final beam in a building. But it has developed over the years to mark the completion of the external construction work and now, in Scotland at least, it’s traditional to include the use of Scotch whisky.

The ceremony usually involves the youngest on the site and Hugh MacKay, a 1st year apprentice, was given the task. He commented, “It’s been great to be involved in a project of this size in my first year and I have really enjoyed being part of the team constructing such a unique building. I can’t wait to see what the whisky is like in many years’ time.”

Also doing the honours was Distillery Manager Mhairi Winter. Mhairi said, “it’s wonderful to take part in this traditional ceremony which dates back so many centuries. And it marks another milestone as we move towards completion, ready to open later in the year.”

Planning permission for the distillery was granted in 2019 and work started on site once COVID restrictions on construction were lifted in July 2020.   It is due to open to the public later this year when it is expected to become a major tourist destination on the outskirts of the town and act as a gateway to Speyside.

Category: News, Whisky
Tags: Gordon & MacPhail, Hugh MacKay, Mhairi Winter, The Cairn Distillery, Topping out at The Cairn