Meet the SponsorJim Rankin, Director, Rankin Brothers & Sons.
Published: 19th October 2020
From the subtle to the extravagant and often the final piece of the puzzle for many drinks and spirits producers, the humble closure. Stoppers, corks or any other number of given names, the closure is what keeps the hard work inside the bottle sealed and ready to be enjoyed. From the second it’s fitted to the second it’s finally removed and then throughout the life of the product, the closure is what keeps the good stuff in and the bad stuff out.
And for something that at first glance might appear simple, there’s a world of complexity, innovation, engineering and design that goes into keeping some our favourite spirits safe. When it comes keeping our favourite spirits safe, one company has continued to develop and support the ever growing list of Scottish Gin makers and brand owners, Rankin Brothers & Sons.
As a returning sponsor of International Scottish Gin Day 2020, we recently caught up with Director Jim Rankin to learn more about their business, its near 250 year history and what it means to sponsor International Scottish Gin Day.
What’s your name and what do you do?
I’m Jim Rankin, Commercial Director here at Rankin Brothers and Sons. I’m responsible for the Commercial, Technical and Materials Development functions and my job is to guide and get the best out of the teams and, hopefully, not hinder our collective progress!
What exactly does Rankin Brothers & Sons do?
We develop, manufacture and supply closures for Spirits, Wines and Beers producers here in the UK and Ireland. As well as T-Top Stoppers for Gins, we produce wine corks, capsules, tamper evident sleeves and beer barrel bungs (to name a few!).
We provide our customers with products which are truly homegrown – we own and manage over 4,500 acres of family cork forest in Portugal and we have manufacturing sites both in Portugal and the UK. So, our stoppers are grown with us from acorn right through to the finished product.
A huge part of what we do is helping businesses realise the creative potential they have with their closure – after spending so long crafting and refining a recipe, the bottle deserves the very best stopper to top it off!
So many brands have bags of creativity in terms of how they see their brand sitting in the market, and we work collaboratively to ensure the closure sits in line with this vision and takes their packaging to the next level. There’s a huge range of creative customisation options for T-Top Stoppers: starting with our four standard bottle neck size options, brands can play with colours, materials, engraving, printing and embossing. The only limit is your imagination!
Can you give us a brief history of the business?
The business was founded in Stirling in 1774, nearly 250 years ago and I’m the sixth generation to be involved. We’re a Scottish family, originally hailing from the isles of Coll & Tiree in the Hebrides.
In the 1700s, cork was harvested in Portugal, as it is to this day and shipped to Scotland to be transformed into stoppers for wines & spirits.
We know from some wonderful personal diaries of the Rankins that during the 1800’s, the family spent a lot of time looking to optimise the movement of cork from Portugal to Scotland – trips which involved journeys by mules and having to stay in inns amongst vagabonds and sailors!
By the late 1800s, the family had acquired cork forestry and farms. The business expanded from Scotland to serve customers throughout the UK and Ireland; at one time, we had manufacturing & warehousing in Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol and London – all major ports that received and bottled shipments of wines and spirits from all over the world. We’re now headquartered in leafy Buckinghamshire; we retain the cork forests and have a manufacturing site in Portugal, where we make wood tops for stoppers, and in the UK where we make a variety of moulded closures.
What does it mean to be a sponsor of International Scottish Gin Day?
As both a Scottish-heritage family business and lovers of Scottish Gin, being a sponsor of International Scottish Gin Day means a great deal to us. It allows us to connect and have a conversation with the producers and their brands.
We genuinely enjoy what we do here, and it’s fascinating to see the myriad of brands and to listen to their stories; to learn of their origins and heritage and to understand their direction of travel. Of course, we’re keen to work with as many gin producers as possible to help to bring their vision to life and add value to their brand, but we also want to give back and repay the trust they have bestowed on us.
International Scottish Gin Day recognises both the strength and diversity within the sector, and our role as sponsor is to promote and drive demand to some of the finest spirits in the world.
We’re enjoying spending time driving digital traffic towards drinks producers to celebrate their hard work and success. The #RaiseAGlass social media campaign is an initiative started by us to promote local producers in the UK and Ireland, to get consumers to venture out and discover the fabulous gems they have on their doorstep and, therefore, making conscientiously local decisions when choosing their weekend tipples.
What are some of the most exciting projects you’ve ever worked on and what are your plans for the next 12 months?
There’s almost too many to mention! What excites us the most is witnessing a sector which is in constant change. Innovation plays a pivotal role in the future success of any brand, and the development of flavours has seen the menu of choice widen beyond the recognition of the traditional market of ten years ago.
Producers and brand owners have become more adventurous in their choice of packaging materials and with the design of the capsule and stopper. So with pace, we continue to innovate and invest in technologies, processes and people in order to present our clients with sustainable, environmentally positive options that add genuine value and that give stand out shelf appeal! All really exciting stuff!
How will you be celebrating International Scottish Gin Day on Saturday 24th October?
Not knowing what restrictions may apply on the day, it’s a little tricky to predict but we’d love to bring colleagues and friends together, socially distanced of course, and kick back with a flight of local Scottish G&Ts.
Up to and beyond International Scottish Gin Day, we’ll continue to enjoy driving digital traffic towards drinks producers to celebrate their hard work and success. Our #RaiseAGlass social media campaign will continue to shine a light on the wonderful choice of drinks we have produced locally here, and we hope to welcome more Scottish Gin producers to the campaign to help them support each other – producers can sign up for more information quickly and easily here.