Women of Gin

Emma Bouglet & Jo Brydie, Fidra Gin.

Published: 9th January 2019

In our latest instalment of Women of Gin, we meet the co-founders of Fidra Gin, Emma Bouglet and Jo Brydie. The friends were inspired by the creators of Lussa Gin to make their own unique spirit, influenced by their East Lothian landscape and made with local botanicals. After purchasing a 5 litre still named Sadie, followed by a lot of experimentation and encouragement from family and fellow gin makers, they launched their gin in September 2018. All the while, balancing family life with managing and working in their own respective businesses. They’ve kept their feet firmly on the ground, taking advice and help from some of the best in the business with the ambition of growing their brand in their own time and for the right reasons.

What are your names and what do you do?

I’m Emma Bouglet, co-founder of Fidra Gin and also currently self-employed running a small, local childcare business, which I set up after I left the world of investment banking back in 2014.

I’m Jo Brydie, the other co-founder of Fidra Gin and also a podiatrist, running my own private practice, when time allows!

How did you come to make gin?

Emma – I was teaching French to a small group of local ladies and Jo was part of the group. Jo and I both have a mutual love of gin and we wanted to set up a new business together. Andy, Jo’s husband, had been on a motorbike trip to Jura and met Claire from Lussa Gin. He relayed the story of 3 women on Jura making gin and we were so inspired, our own gin dream was born!

Jo – I have always thought it’s good to have more than one career! Until 2003 I worked at Musselburgh Racecourse organising all the corporate hospitality and I have been a podiatrist for over 12 years now. Emma and I realised we were both looking for a new challenge at the same time and my husband encouraged us to look into it after his trip to Jura. The more we thought about it and talked about it, the more we convinced ourselves it was a great idea.

What makes your gin special?

Emma – Our gin is unique for East Lothian and it’s the first East Lothian gin to incorporate locally foraged botanicals. We forage in the hedgerows and the dunes and we also grow lemon thyme at Archerfield Walled Garden. We are both passionate about provenance and making sure our gin is as Scottish as can be.

Jo – We handpick many of our ingredients from the beautiful East Lothian coastline and then our gin is made by Walter Micklethwait in his unique Inshriach shed distillery near Aviemore.

Do you think more could be done to encourage women entrepreneurs?

Emma – I am pleased to say that I am seeing more and more women who are juggling busy lives, taking control and starting their own businesses. I have a 12 year old daughter and I think it’s important that she is surrounded by entrepreneurial women.

Jo – I know loads of women entrepreneurs locally and I honestly have never felt like I wasn’t being encouraged – quite the opposite in fact – everyone has been so positive towards us.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

Emma – Our biggest challenges are time and logistics! Our gin is currently made at Inshriach Distillery, near Aviemore and the gin is bottled close by at Kinrara. We are looking to bring the entire process to East Lothian once we are more established.

Jo – For me, the biggest challenge has definitely been finding time in the day when Emma and I are both free to catch up. I always seem to be working when she’s off and vice versa – it’s tricky and as we both plan to keep going with our current jobs for now so it’s unlikely to become any easier any time soon!

What’s the best piece of advice you could give to women who are starting off their career in gin?

Emma – My best piece of advice to any women looking to set up and make gin is to just go for it. Have the confidence in yourself and believe in your product and talk to as many people in the gin industry as possible. We have found the gin world to be a friendly one!

Jo – My advice would be to do your homework and don’t drink all the gin! Try not to be put off by all the regulations and licenses – it’s more straight forward than it appears at first.

What does the term Scottish Gin mean to you?

Emma – To me, Scottish Gin means gin made in Scotland, hopefully using as many local ingredients as possible. Provenance is really important to us.

Jo – I echo Emma on this one.

What do you think are the big issues facing Scottish Gin at the moment?

Emma – I feel one big issue facing Scottish Gin is the importance of those gins being made in Scotland, gaining the recognition they deserve.

Jo – Having worked in gin for only a short time, I feel like I’ve not been massively exposed to many of the big issues. My experience so far is that the industry runs pretty smoothly and that, in the main, gin people seem very open and welcoming.

Which other gin makers do you admire?

Emma – I really admire the women at Lussa Gin for what they have achieved. Walter at Inshriach has been a bit of a mentor and without him, his shed and his still, there would be no Fidra Gin. And Stuart and Dave at Kinrara have helped us so much.

Jo – All of the above. And the Harris Gin team because they make a wonderful gin in a beautiful bottle.

Where do you see Fidra Gin and Scottish Gin in 10 years time?

Emma – In 10 years time we would love to be able to say that Fidra Gin is being made in East Lothian in a little distillery overlooking Fidra Island. We would also love to be able to say that we are using local East Lothian GNS to make our gin and we’d like to see Scottish gin being exported all over the world.

Jo – A year and a half in and we’ve really enjoyed the whole process of making our dream of producing a gin a reality, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds.

You can learn more about Fidra Gin here.

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