Sunderland’s Hotly Anticipated New Leisure Venue Reveals Latest Addition

Credit: Riverside Sunderland

Whisky fans in Sunderland will be raising a glass, as Sheepfolds stables announce its latest addition for 2023. Speyside Distillers, an artisan distillery in Scotland’s Cairngorm Mountains, is the latest in a long and impressive line-up of businesses taking space in the fast-transforming Grade II listed venue. 

The Spey Snug- a stunning whisky lounge, that will be decorated with rich heavy fabrics, a moody colour palette and bespoke leather furniture, telling the story of Speyside’s heritage- will serve up Speyside’s award-winning single malts, alongside its juniper-enhanced gin and range of cigars, when it opens its doors this year. 

The Snug is set in one of the eight distinct spaces within Sheepfolds’ hotly anticipated new leisure venue and it is the fourth business to be announced and will take up a cosy space close to the venue’s stage. Sheepfolds will include eight shop-fronted units as well as two open courtyards providing attractive outdoor space for events and entertainment. 

They are looking to run a range of events including pre-match events, markets and even concerts that will draw visitors from the city and beyond. Essential building work has begun to ensure the building remains safe and work is now able to accelerate on the redevelopment of the space, with a view to it opening its doors this year. 

The other businesses that have joined Sheepfolds are 

  • Zinc- A restaurant planning to be opened by owners of Michelin Guide Restaurant Newcastle Route, John and Kimberley Calton. It will be heavily produce-driven with an emphasis on seasonal food sourced locally wherever possible. 
  • Si King, a famous TV chef from Hairy Bikers is set to take space in Sheepfolds offering a creative menu of comforting, hearty dishes that are inspired by flavours around the world. 
  • RESINN- A multi-concept space that will have stunning homeware, garden ware and gifts as well as freshly brewed tea and coffee, tasty treats and a warm welcome by partners Erik Ohrstrom and Kate Blower. 

Speyside distillers are the fourth occupier of Sheepfolds and is run by John Harvey McDonough, who has long-running connections with Sunderland having once lived in Pallion. 

John said: “We are thrilled to be bringing Spey Snug to Sheepfolds in Sunderland, working with the BDN team. Having lived in Sunderland previously, it is wonderful to come back and be part of a venue that will be a stunning addition for people living and visiting the city. 

“This is a really special venue with such heritage. It was an opportunity we just couldn’t pass by. And to be able to develop a new product that will give this venue something really unique to offer its customers is just fantastic”. 

The venue plans to hold whisky and cigar-tasting evenings and will also be available for private hire for people looking to host an event or celebration. The venue will also house some of John’s wife’s artwork. Joanna’s work feature on bottles of Spey whiskey produced by the distillery. 

Richard Marsden, managing director at BDN, said: “The response to this venue has been fantastic, not only from people in Sunderland but from businesses that are keen to be part of it and we’re delighted to have Speyside Distillery on board, to bring a really different offer to Sunderland”. 

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The offer at this brilliant new venue just gets stronger and stronger with each announcement, and as a Scotsman with a passion for Sunderland, I am particularly pleased to see Speyside Distillery launch its first Spey Snug outside of Scotland in this wonderful city I am proud to call home”.