Plans looking to pour new spirit into the ruined local Kennetpans Distillery, which has been labelled as “the ground zero of the whisky industry”, have attracted £60,000 of funding.

The project called A Wee Dram at Kennetpans, which now hopes to stabilise the ruin making it safe and accessible, received £30,000 each from the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as Historic Scotland.

The site is acclaimed as the place where the Scottish and Irish whisky industries were formed as we know them today.

Owner of the site Bryan Frew, who started his charity Kennetpans Trust in 2011, hopes to share the intriguing history of the distillery that once operated there from around 1720.

He told the Advertiser: “This is a story that needs to be told.

“Make no mistake this site is of immense importance not only to the Wee County, but worldwide.

Being the birthplace of the Haig and Jameson brands its legacy still lives on, but we need assistance to retain what is left of this ruin.” The Stein family, who are thought to have been at the forefront of the industrial revolution in Scotland, ran the largest distillery in the country at the time.

Whisky commentators today describe John Stein, who owned Kennetpans, as “the father of commercial whisky distilling.” His brother, James, opened the nearby Kilbagie operation – the first Scottish distillery which exported the product, an industry that is worth £4.3 billion per year today.

Bryan, who lived at Kennetpans for over 20 years now and purchased a parcel of land that included the ruin in 2006, added: “The main difficulty regarding the project now and in the future is raising funds.

“In securing the initial funds we were lucky to be nominated to be part of Inner Forth Landscape Initiative’s bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund by Historic Scotland who appreciate the site’s importance and also by Susan Mills, Clackmannanshire Council’s heritage officer.

“Susan has been a very helpful supporter of our project since the beginning of our quest to secure the ruin for future generations.” By the 1770s the two distilleries, which were linked by Scotland’s first railway and a canal, produced so much alcohol that the duty they paid combined was higher than all land tax collected in the country.

John Haig married one of Stein’s daughters in 1751 and his descendants later started the world famous Haig brand.

John Jameson, originally from Alloa, was also related to the Steins and Haigs through marriage and moved to Dublin, taking charge of the family’s Bow Street distillery later assuming full ownership and creating the Jameson brand.

In 1788, due to changes in law that imposed extra duties on exports to England and an attempt at bribery, the Stein family found themselves in the middle of much controversy and were bankrupted.

Their fall from grace is a story in itself.

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