For the Love of Gin

Cameron & June McCann, Stirling Gin.

Published: 28th April 2020

Established in 2015 by husband and wife Cameron and June McCann, the signature Stirling Gin started off life on a small development still in the McCann’s kitchen. With long term plans to open the first legal distillery in Stirling after working with a number of distilleries, the couple took ownership of the Old Smiddy in 2017, a well known local building that sat in the shadows of the world famous Stirling Castle. After a period of careful restoration and development, Cameron and June saw their dream become a reality when the doors of Stirling Gin Distillery officially opened in July 2019.

We recently caught up with Cameron and June to learn more about what it’s like to work with your other half in an exciting and growing distillery and Scottish Gin business.

Who are the people behind Stirling Gin?

June: We are husband and wife Cameron and June McCann and we are the team behind Stirling Gin. We have worked together for about 15 years. It was something that kind of just happened when Cameron retired and I gave up my job in the City of London after the birth of our second child. We originally owned an Art Gallery, which sold original Scottish Art along with whisky and gifts. We then started producing Stirling Gin in 2015 and opened the doors to our distillery in June 2019. Our distillery is in the city of Stirling and can be found in the shadows of Stirling Castle.

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

Cameron: We met at a badminton club that we both attended through a mutual friend in Helensburgh and have now been married for over 30 years. We got married in the late eighties and moved to London for 12 years. We then moved back to the Stirling area, home for nearly twenty years. Having started the Stirling Whisky Festival nine years ago, we followed it up by starting the Stirling Gin Festival in 2014 where we brought together brands from across the UK. Reflecting on the event, I couldn’t understand why Stirling wasn’t on the gin map and shortly realised there was no gin to represent our hometown of Stirling. So, with help from June, I set about creating a gin at home in a 2.4 litre still called Jinty and have been making Stirling Gin ever since. Jinty still sits proudly on display at the distillery.

What does it mean to work with your significant other?

June: We feel very lucky on the whole that we get on well and have a great working relationship. However, anyone running their own business will know that it can get stressful at times. That said, running your own distillery is mostly fun, especially when you have good staff and there is always gin available!

Which particular attributes do you bring to the gin making process?

Cameron: Working as a small team, you need to wear many hats and we each bring our own attributes and different strengths to the table. I have the business head, keeping track of all the extras of running a business behind the scenes. I also have a good tasting palette for new flavours!

June: I’m the creative one. I deal with all the events and festivals. I come up with most of the ideas behind the branding, merchandise and distillery designs. We both deal with the sales side of the business, like having meetings with wholesalers and retailers.

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

Cameron: There are many pros of working together. As it is our business, we both want what’s best and we both put in the same amount of effort and commitment to ensure it can be the best it can. We occasionally get business trips away together and we can be honest and open with each other on what we think is best for our business. The hardest part of working together is remembering when work stops, and family life starts. It can be hard to switch off and stop talking about work. We both work very hard and it can be difficult to take time off for ourselves.

What topics cause the most arguments in the business?!

Cameron:  Like most couples, we do disagree… it’s not all the time but it can happen occasionally. When we do, it is always quickly resolved. We both have different working styles, which can sometimes cause disagreements but most of the time we work really well together and are a great team. I just have to remember June is always right!!

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

Cameron: Don’t!! Just kidding… It’s a lot of fun creating your own business and watching it grow. What I would say is, you need to know your stuff before you start. There are a lot of things to consider and learn in the gin industry and it can be challenging at times, but overall, I find it very rewarding working with June every day.

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

Cameron: We never really manage to escape the topic. It always gets brought back up, but that’s not always a bad thing. We also have separate interests outside of work and having children takes up our time too. We think about them and make sure we spend an equal amount of time with them outside of work. Having said all that, what’s wrong in taking work home when work is gin?!

What does the term Scottish Gin mean to you?

Cameron: June and I both have the same view on Scottish Gin. We believe it should be distilled or rectified in Scotland. From the start, Stirling Gin was always made in Scotland. Many gin companies state they make a Scottish Gin, even when the first time it arrives in Scotland is when it’s transported across the border from England, which isn’t an issue if the companies in question tell the consuming public. We also believe Scottish Gin represents quality, made to the best standard possible.

What’s next for Stirling Gin?

Cameron: We feel the story of our gin is just starting, with the distillery now open and the second chapter starting, there are lots of exciting things coming soon. Watch this space!

You can learn more about Stirling Gin here.

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