Groundwater abstraction for Speyside Distillery

We developed and licensed an array of groundwater abstraction boreholes to supply a new distillery with cooling water. The distillery now benefits from the required sustainable groundwater supply, with the application having been approved by SEPA.


Gordon & MacPhail’s new Speyside distillery, The Cairn, required a supply of cooling water which we assisted with by developing and licensing an array of groundwater abstraction boreholes to meet this need. Careful design was required in order to achieve the abstraction whilst promoting environmental best practice. 


We successfully coordinated the feasibility assessment, design and construction, testing and licensing of the groundwater abstraction boreholes. While the specific solution varies by site, the following key tasks undertaken at the Speyside distillery are detailed below. 

Feasibility assessment - a detailed conceptual hydrogeological understanding was developed to gauge suitability of the underlying glaciofluvial aquifer as a water resource.

Design and construction - this system involves drilling three boreholes to specific depths to access the desired volume of groundwater.

Test pumping and analysis – including pre-test monitoring, step-tests and constant rate tests, and recovery tests.

Licensing – the WAT-RM-11 regulatory method requires certain tests to be met, including: surface water flow impact test, adequate resource test, a water features survey, and water efficiency measures.


Work was carefully planned with the materials and drilling technique used to avoid impact on other water users and designated ecological features in the adjacent River Spey. Due to the location of the boreholes close to the river, although the abstraction is nominally from the sands and gravels, the water source is indirectly from the river. In addition, by using boreholes to abstract the water, the risks from a direct surface water intake, regarding disturbance of sediment in the river, are negated. 

Our understanding of the hydrogeological and regulatory processes and their challenges has resulted in confirmation from SEPA that the abstraction licence application has been approved. The distillery now benefits from the required sustainable and licensed groundwater supply which has negated the need to mitigate against potential impacts that may have arisen from an alternative surface water supply.

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Want to know more?

For more information about groundwater supply projects please contact Eleanor Williams.


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