Women of Gin

Kim Cameron, Gin Bothy.

Published: 11th April 2019

Our Women in Gin editorial feature series interviews some of the brilliant and talented women working in the world of Scottish Gin and Scottish Spirits. Next up, we interview Kim Cameron, owner and founder of one of the early Scottish Gin brands, Gin Bothy. 

What started off as a jam making business soon evolved into a gin brand with a number of gin and gin liqueur expressions. Thanks to the stewardship of Kim Cameron, founder of Gin Bothy, the business today still follows the same founding principles that Gin Bothy as a business and the products it produces are about capturing the landscape and reconnecting with the past. Principles of respect for the land and the people, mountain, river and farm. These principles are perfectly captured in the newly opened visitor centre, The Bothy Experience at Glamis, which explores the history of bothies in Scotland and how they have shaped Scotland’s agricultural past and the more modern pursuit of hillwalking. With a passion for singing ‘Bothy’ (songs of the farmworkers of the North East of Scotland that have been passed down through the generations), Kim has bothy in her blood. A passion for local producers means that her gins and gin liqueurs use locally sourced fruit and base spirit that’s produced just over a mile away at a local distillery.

What’s your name and what do you do?

Kim Cameron and I’m the founder come all-rounder of Gin Bothy.

When did you realise you wanted to make gin?

In 2015, when I was making Gin Bothy jam, we made gin ‘on the side’ for friends and family, as a way of using up excess fruit and berries. We’ve always been mindful to have minimum waste in our production so it was a great way to repurpose the fruit. It’s amazing to think gin wasn’t always in the plan because now we have a family of 13 Gin Bothy products!

Tell us about your gin journey so far.

As an accidental gin maker, it’s fair to say, without being too Oprah!, that the gin journey has been a bit nuts! From batching in a Bothy to now having a visitor experience, I had no idea people would be so interested in what we do or indeed the world of Bothies. Our production operation and facilities are still relatively modest. We still use jugs and buckets and our small local team (all female on production) still hand bottle, hand batch, hand pour every one of our products… we just use bigger buckets now!

Do you think more could be done to encourage women to seek a career in spirits and distillation?

Yes, it’s still a very male dominated industry and in terms of production there is nothing glamorous about what I do but there are so many people interested in it that I can’t help thinking over time it will change.

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

Licensing, compliance and HMRC.

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

Absorb and speak to as many different types of businesses as you can, be super organised and understand the business not just the kit. Save a portion of your brain for legal and accounts and love what you do!

What does the term Scottish Gin mean to you?

A gin created in Scotland, some part of the process must be in Scotland whether it’s compounded or distilled.

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

Provenance and the need for brand collaboration. As we see gin regionalising throughout the UK, the need to support the sector will continue, look at how the Whisky sector support each other. Encouraging consumers to have a collection of gin not just your own!

What other distilleries do you admire?

There are so many for different reasons, that’s what makes the sector so diverse as we see mass production and small batch producers side by side, passionate people with real integrity and attention to detail. I admire Harris for their design and implementation, Ogilvy and Arbikie for true ground to glass, the marketing machines of Eden Mill and Edinburgh Gin, the quirkiness of Persie, Pickering’s, Inshriach and Hendricks, to name a few! Honestly there are so many people doing different but fantastic things.

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

Well practically, we need bigger premises (bothies by nature are not big!). We plan to use a 500 litre still, at least, and realistically we have said no to supplying some parts of the world as we are just not able to produce enough, but with a bigger still and bigger buckets it may just be possible to spread Bothy love to new shores. There are as many people singing Bothy abroad as there are in Scotland so you never know the success we can have!

You can learn more about Gin Bothy here.

You can learn more about the history of ‘Bothy’ Songs here. 

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