For the Love of Gin

Stuart & Adelle Brown, Deerness Distillery.

Published: 1st November 2018

For The Love of Gin takes a lighthearted look at what it takes to work with your better half when you’re in the business of Scottish Gin. With a large number of husband and wife Scottish Gin businesses, we wanted to find out how they met and how they literally fell in love… with Scottish Gin! What are the ups and downs of working with your spouse? Who also happens to be your business partner… and co-founder. Who makes the tea… fetches the chocolate biscuits… who puts out the wheelie bins? What does it take to build a life together and take the bold and brave step to make Scottish Gin together?

Who are the people behind Sea Glass Gin?

Stuart: I’m Stuart Brown, along with my wife Adelle, we are the owners and founders of Deerness Distillery, located on the idyllic Orkney Islands. I’m a Chartered Engineer by profession, which came in handy as I designed the distillery myself. As well as Adelle and myself, our friends and family helped build the final distillery, which we finished in February 2017. I’m also the head distiller and creator of Sea Glass Gin, an award-winning Scottish Gin that we launched in Spring 2017.

How did you meet and how did you come to start your gin making journey together?

Adelle: We met over 20 years at University, believe it or not through cricket! Over the course of the last 20 years our love of spirits has grown and our hobby saw us making some really great gins, rums, liqueurs and to be honest some not so great! To be fair, our 20 year hobby provided us with invaluable experience, experience we used to create our range of spirits including our gin and vodka.

What does it mean to work with your significant other?

Stuart: It has always been a goal of ours to have a business and work together, so achieving this has been a tremendous personal achievement for us both.

Which particular attributes do you each bring to the gin making business?

Stuart: I have a wealth of experience in working with external bodies, designing and developing systems and project management. These attributes have been invaluable since the conception of Deerness Distillery.

Adelle: I’m the creative one. I have a passion for the creative arts, which has helped shaped the business. From the design of distillery to the packaging for our Sea Glass Gin.

What are the pros and cons of working and living together?

Stuart: It can be difficult not to be all-consumed by the business, but having a young family and Adelle working elsewhere part-time means we’re not together all the time! It’s certainly advantageous when you’re working to a deadline and can work after the children have gone to bed, but it’s knowing when to stop and make time for yourself as a couple and family that’s the important bit you have to get right.

What topics cause the most arguments in the business?!

Stuart: We both work in very different ways, so the closest we have come to an argument is when Adelle is frustrated at my way of working. We have quite separate areas of the distillery for which we each plan, implement and run on a day-to-day basis and this helps avoid any arguments… most of the time!

What advice do you have for other spouses considering making spirits together?

Adelle: You need to be a strong and trusting team in all aspects of your life.  It helps to work together when there’s lots to be done or if something isn’t going to plan and also to celebrate the achievements you’ve both worked so hard for.

How do you escape the topic (or making!) of spirits?

Adelle: As well as running a successful business, we also have three children, so once out of the distillery environment things are quickly forgotten, with homework, after school events and family life, which is always given priority over the distillery.

What does the term Scottish Gin mean to you?

Stuart: Our answer is two-fold.

Firstly, Scottish gin and the making of spirits in Scotland is steeped in history and Scottish spirits are known for their quality, character and links to the Scottish landscape. We are very proud to say our spirits fall into this category. They are made in Scotland, they are of a very high quality and our local landscape of Orkney has helped shaped our spirits. Along with many others in Scottish Gin and spirits, we play our own role in positioning Scottish spirits as being of a very high quality.

Secondly, for us, to be a Scottish Gin it needs be made in Scotland! Our Sea Glass Gin and other spirits are distilled in our distillery on Orkney, which gives it provenance also. At Deerness I am the only master distiller, but we also do all other aspects of the process, along with the other four fabulous staff. It is a real team effort and we are proud to produce a multi-award winning spirit from Orkney, Scotland.

What’s next for Deerness Distillery?

Adelle: We are just about to expand our gin and vodka range before Christmas with a new release ‘gin & vodka’, so keep an eye on social media!  In spring this year we opened a shop within our distillery and also started tours. Both have been very well received and we are looking to strengthen this area of the business in 2019.

You can learn more about Deerness Distillery here.

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