The Fearn Peninsula has long history of agriculture. Place names in Wester Rarichie point to the Picts having been involved in simple agriculture in the area.
In the 16th and 17th centuries the chief grain crop commonly grown in the area was bere, an early form of four-rowed barley. It was used as food for humans and animals as well as for brewing and it is frequently mentioned in Kirk Session records, for instance, in 1708 a woman was in trouble with the Session for carrying a peck of bere from Easter Rarichie to Shandwick on the Sabbath to make ale.
Bere lost favour in farming and barley became the choice crop. By the middle of the 19th century the parish had been noted for the excellence and quality of its barley. The historical records show that there was a reduction in production which could have been as a result of the clamp-down on illicit distilling and the activities of the guagers, the excise men.
During World War Two, the RAF built the aerodrome in 1941 as RAF Fearn intended as a satellite to RAF Tain, but officially it did not open until after it was taken over and altered by the Royal Navy on 15 July 1942. During this time, the aircraft which was predominantly flown there was the British designed Barracuda. This was the first torpedo bomber used by the Navy that was made from metal. No Barracudas survive today.
The airfield closed on 2 July 1946, but remained an Air Ministry asset until 1957. The site was returned mostly to farmland but several elements were turned into industrial units. The farmland which surrounds the distillery site has returned to barley fields and is producing high quality crops which are used for malting.
The distillery will be a nod to all eras of the site history, from distilling in small stills more like the smugglers stills rather than the large moderns ones of today, and remembering the men and women who served at HMS Owl during the war.
Map from 1904
Barracuda MkII circa 1944
Map from 1979