190208 - Bottle and Gift Box, Down Pour Gin

Sharing Hebridean gin with the rest of the world

The new North Uist Distillery is looking to bring a taste of the Hebrides to the rest of the world.

Joint owners Jonny Ingledew and Kate Macdonald have used Business Gateway’s one-to-one business support and fully funded workshops throughout the planning stages of their new business venture, North Uist Distillery.

With a Masters’ degree in distilling, Jonny was well equipped with the theoretical experience, passion and an initial concept, but it was Business Gateway that provided the practical experience necessary to form a business plan that would bring North Uist Distillery to market.

Motivated by a love for the Outer Hebrides and a mutual desire to bring a USP to the gin market, Jonny and Kate opened a small distillery in North Uist to produce their new spirit: Downpour.

Not only does it include double the number of botanicals as standard gin, but no other gin is distilled on the islands of Uist. Clear in the bottle, cloudy in the glass, essential oils from juniper berries and citrus peels give the gin a distinctive cloudy appearance when diluted with tonic.

Business Gateway assisted North Uist Distillery’s joint-owners from a holistic, business perspective and coordinated monthly meetings with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, guiding Jonny and Kate through the initial stages of development and providing advice on taking the product to market. The next phase of this ambitious business will involve fundraising for a new custom-built whisky distillery in North Uist.

Jonny and Kate received grant finance from Business Gateway’s Grants for Growth scheme. The £12,000 funding grant acted as a mechanism to pay early up-front costs and allowed the business owners to fund a comprehensive set of essential financials to present to future investors.

Alastair Macleod, Business Gateway, Outer Hebrides, said: ‘I’ve been working with North Uist Distillery since 2014 and it’s been a joy to watch their ideas and products develop over the last few years. We worked collaboratively on the business plan with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), allowing Jonny and Kate to benefit from a wide range of additional services to help grow their business.’

Jonny and Kate, joint founders of North Uist Distillery, added: ‘Business Gateway has engaged with us from the very beginning of our business journey and the support offered has been varied and invaluable from critiquing our business plan and making introductions, to providing financial support through grant schemes.

‘We’ve also taken advantage of the free business and marketing classes that are regularly available. Contacting Business Gateway should be the first step in anyone’s journey in embarking on your first business idea.’

Business Gateway provides regular free workshops on every aspect of running a business including: routes to funding, intellectual property, networking opportunities and business plan advice. As well as these fundamental workshops, Jonny and Kate took advantage of the newly introduced DigitalBoost workshop.

Jonny continued: ‘All of our practical business experience has been augmented and supplemented through Business Gateway. The DigitalBoost workshop was the only workshop I hadn’t attended, and I was excited to know more. The workshop gave invaluable support to develop our online presence and the brand, as today social media skills are key to growing brand awareness.’

To find out more about how Business Gateway can help you set up and develop your own business visit https://www.bgateway.com/local-offices/western-isles.