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Talking Scottish Gin

Scotland's gin makers put the questions to their peers in this virtual round of Scottish Gin.

Published: 4th May 2021

Mixing a little bit of fun with a little bit of insight, we enjoy a third round of Scottish G&T’s with Scotland’s gin makers and brand owners as we let them ask their peers the questions in our ‘Talking Scottish Gin’ Q&A editorial feature.

Picking up where we left off in round two with Pixel Spirits, Beinn an Tuirc Distillers, Tyree Gin and The Botanist; Katie Smith, Communications Manager for The Botanist Gin based on the Isle of Islay passed the baton to neighbours Lussa Gin on the Isle of Jura…

Katie asked Lussa Gin, “What are the main challenges of producing gin in such a remote location?”

Claire Fletcher, Co-Founder of Lussa Gin replies,“The main challenge of producing Lussa Gin in such a remote location is getting things on and off the island. Jura is not only two ferries from mainland Scotland, but our distillery is an hour’s drive up the single track road from the ferry.

“Our very first pallet of bottles that came up the road for our first bottling wasn’t tied in properly on the lorry, and the whole thing arrived in pieces, which set us back months as we had to wait for another pallet to arrive.

“Occasionally ferries don’t run because of wild weather, particularly in the winter, but we’re pretty resilient and have well stocked store cupboards.

“We’re amazed how many people make the journey to see us in person and we’re in the process of creating a gin garden to showcase all fifteen of our botanicals from the island. All we need now is a coffee shop!”

Learn more about Lussa Gin here.

Claire asked Pickering’s Gin, “How do you continue to innovate, especially when there are so many gins around?”

Marcus Pickering, Co-Founder of Pickering’s Gin replies “For us, innovation comes from being creative. We have frequent development meetings where we’ll look at new product concepts, our tours and visitors experience, new ideas for the brand and business. It gives us the chance to talk through these ideas including the wild and crazy. For us, the bolder the better.

“Often the next stage is developing an idea further. For example, when we visited America we wanted something that would make an impact for the on-trade customers we visited. We ended up building a bespoke suitcase that turned into a mini pop-up bar with everything you could need to make the perfect Pickering’s G&T. What started as a concept resulted in a brilliant business tool that helped us not only grab the attention of potential customers and get them talking about our brand, but it resulted in direct sales. Granted, it weighed a tonne and was a physical work out travelling between states in America, but in the end, the suitcase proved to be worth its weight in gold.

“With what’s happened over the last year, we’ve definitely had to remain creative and continue to innovate. Virtual events along with our new tour format, new products in development; every day has seen a new challenge that we’ve worked to over come, like many other gin producers and brands across Scotland. We remain focused on growing the Pickering’s brand, products and visitor experience. It’s good for any business to know what’s happening in their business sector but you have to focus your time and energy on your own business and follow your own path.”

Learn more about Pickering’s Gin here.

Marcus asked Port of Leith Distillery, “It’s so exciting to see the plans go ahead for your distillery. How has COVID-19 impacted the project?”

Iain Stirling, Co-Founder of Port of Leith Distillery replies, “Thanks for the question guys! The straight forward implication of Covid-19 has been that it has significantly delayed the construction and opening of our whisky distillery – we reckon by as much as 9 months. The first delay was caused by the initial lockdown in March 2020, when all construction sites in Scotland had to close down. But even when the industry re-opened, we found it was difficult to move things forward while many companies still had staff on furlough.

“Over the years that we’ve spent trying to build this thing, we have had a lot of false starts. Without many of those, we might have already completed construction last year. We can now look back with some relief that this didn’t happen. Had the distillery been fully operational and open last year, we would have faced some very difficult decisions.

“So as it stands, the doors will finally open in the Spring of 2022. And that suits us fine!”

Learn more about Port of Leith Distillery here.

Ian asked Electric Spirit Co., who co-share a distillery space with Port of Leith Distillery, “Have you ever thought of extending your range into other styles and spirits? And please could you stop breaking our stuff every time you drive the forklift truck? Are you doing it on purpose? Do you need a refresher course on how to drive it?” 

James Porteous, Founder of Electric Spirit Company replies, “As the only one of us to have a laminated forklift training certificate on the wall of the shed-quarters, your criticism of my forking washes over me like the sea at a beach, gently lapping over my toes. Sorry again about the car though, I’m sure a bit of filler will sort out those holes in the door.

“I’d love to extend the range, and I’ve done a few other spirits in the past (projects with Timberyard, various gin festivals and the mythical Not Another Effing Gin, which I did with the Leith Agency and still get emails about). I also brewed a collab with the team at Tempest Brewing (a Gose called “Are Friends Electric?”), which we served up at one of their Springfest parties in the Borders. Remember parties?

“The main issue / excuse at the moment is finding time to work on new products, given it’s still just me doing everything – something that made it easier to weather covid, but is pretty exhausting when it comes to product and business development. I think I’ve been saying I’ll do something new for a couple of years now, so I suppose I better pull my finger out! The daft thing is, I actually have the recipe, I just need to tweak it for production and decide what colour the bottle’s going to be.

“Long term, I think being around the Port of Leith team and their plans for their whisky site has made me more ambitious in imagining what Electric could be doing as a business. I love gin – my fondness for it goes way back to my late teens when it was pretty much London Dry or nothing – but there’s a whole world of distillation out there, and the idea of Electric being more than a gin producer is very much at the front of my mind. I might need a business partner first though.”

Learn more about Electric Spirit Co. here.

James has passed the baton to the team at The Borders Distillery, makers of William Kerr’s Borders Gin… stay tuned to find out the question and answer in the next round of Talking Scottish Gin!

Catch up on instalments 1 and 2 here.

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