A whisky distillery, onsite shop and tasting rooms form part of ambitious plans to breathe new life into an iconic Peak District pub.
Forest Distillery has taken on the keys to The Cat & Fiddle Inn on a long-term lease from owners Robinsons Brewery.
The remote pub, which is situated 1,690ft above sea level on the A537 between Buxton and Macclesfield, was built in 1813. However its doors have been firmly shut to customers since 2015 after the business was deemed unviable.
Now Forest Distillery has unveiled bold plans to relocate the whisky side of their family-run business to The Cat & Fiddle, a move which would make the historic building the highest altitude distillery in Britain. Alongside the pub operation, there would be an on-site shop, tasting rooms and tours.
William Robinson, managing director of Robinsons Brewery's pub division, said: “We have owned The Cat & Fiddle for almost 100 years and closing the doors was a very difficult decision but keeping it up and running just wasn’t viable.
"Many people would have sold it, but we wanted the building to have a long-term beneficial use to the community. So before handing over the keys, we had to be sure that it was to the right person, and that the business plan was robust enough to succeed.
“Forest Distillery is a wonderful local family business and exactly the right people to take The Cat & Fiddle into its next chapter. Their vision to create a local, authentic whisky distillery with an on-site shop, tours and a pub has real potential and would transform The Cat & Fiddle into a destination venue the whole community could be proud of.
"We hope the community really gets behind this project. It’s exciting times for the pub and the local area."
The Forest Distillery is run by husband and wife team Karl and Lindsay Bond, along with three members of staff.
Lindsay said: “We are excited, and a little terrified in taking on such a big project. However, we are confident, that with local support, we can create something very special up there.”
Karl added: “At our existing distillery, we are simply out of space. The Cat & Fiddle has the most fantastic network of cellars that are perfect for slowly aging our spirits, whilst also having a brilliant space above for visitors to enjoy.
"Having lived in Macclesfield all of my life, I know what a special connection the pub has for the area, and I really hope that we can fulfil its potential.”
Alongside investment by Robinsons Brewery and Forest Distillery to refurbish the building and return it to its former glory, a Crowdfunding page has been set up where people can purchase everything from pre-launch tours and group drinks events to an opportunity to have their name on the saviour’s wall.
Visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/catandfiddle for more information.