Forest Distillery set to revitalise former Robinsons pub

By Alice Leader contact

- Last updated on GMT

To the rescue: Forest Distillery will move some of its operation to reopen ex-Robinsons pub
To the rescue: Forest Distillery will move some of its operation to reopen ex-Robinsons pub

Related tags: Robinsons brewery, Pub

Family-run brewer and operator Robinsons will hand over a Macclesfield pub to Forest Distillery in order to reopen its doors.

Built in 1813, the Cat & Fiddle closed for what seems to be the last time during winter in 2015.

With the Cheshire pub being in a remote location, trading was a struggle in the cold months.

But, on top of changes to consumer drinking habits combined with expensive maintenance, running the pub was unsustainable.

Robust enough

Robinsons Brewery managing director (pub division) William Robinson said: “The past three years have been challenging.

“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 a) it was to the right person and b) that the business plan was robust enough to succeed.”

The next chapter

Down the hill from the pub lies Forest Distillery. The distillery is renowned for its gin and whisky, and the team has decided to continue the growth of the company by moving the whisky part of the business to the Cat & Fiddle.

This move would make the building the highest altitude distillery in Britain – and second highest pub in England, after the Tan High Inn, North Yorkshire.

Robinson continued: “Forest Distillery is a wonderful local family business and exactly the right people to take the Cat & Fiddle into its next chapter.

“Its 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 that 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.”

A little terrified

Co-founder of Forest Distillery and full-time distiller Lindsay Bond 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.”

Husband Karl Bond 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 ageing our spirits, while 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.”

Former glory

However, to refurbish the building to its former glory will require considerable investment.

Both Robinsons Brewery and Forest Distillery are heavily investing in the building but are still short of funding to deliver the customer experience there.

Therefore, as of today (Monday 21 October), there will be a crowdfunding page set up where people can purchase such things as pre-launch tours, group drinks events and an opportunity to put your name on the saviour’s wall.

If all goes according to plan, the Cat & Fiddle will reopen its doors in spring.

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