Local family business, Forest Distillery has taken the keys to The Cat and Fiddle Inn, Macclesfield in Cheshire, on a long-term lease from brewer and pub operator, Robinsons Brewery.
Built in 1813, The Cat and Fiddle is an iconic building which dominates the surrounding area and is very much loved, both in the local area and also far and wide. However, during a particularly bad winter in 2015, the landlord locked the doors for what seemed to be the very last time.
The pub has an extremely remote location but one which is favoured by walkers and cyclists. As a humble pub, trading has always been a struggle in the winter months, but more recently, changes to drinking habits, combined with a need for some very expensive maintenance to the building has meant that running a pub there is simply unsustainable, so the doors have remained closed.
William Robinson, Managing Director (Pub Division) of Robinsons Brewery, said: “The last 3 years have been challenging. We have owned The Cat and 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.”
Just down the hill from the pub lies The Forest Distillery, where husband and wife team, Karl and Lindsay Bond, along with 3 members of staff are disrupting the drinks industry by making some of the world’s very best Gin and Whisky, giving the local area something to be very proud of.
To continue the growth of the company, they have decided to move the Whisky part of the business to The Cat and Fiddle, a move which would make the building the highest altitude distillery in Britain.
Robinson continued, “Forest Distillery are a wonderful local family business and exactly the right people to take The Cat and 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 and 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.”
Co-founder of Forest 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.”
Karl Bond added, “At our existing distillery, we are simply out of space. The Cat and 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.”
To refurbish the building to its former glory, however, requires considerable investment. Both Robinsons Brewery and Forest Distillery are heavily investing in the building but are still short 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 some really exciting things such as pre-launch tours, group drinks events and even an opportunity to put their name on the saviour’s wall!
If all goes according to plan, The Cat and Fiddle (and Weasel) will re-open its doors as a shining jewel on top of the green hills above Macclesfield and Buxton in spring 2020.