Island businesses join forces for online whisky tastings

CANNED water brand Larkfire has been teaming up with island distilleries including Highland Park and Jura and a new whisky retailer to offer online tastings during lockdown.

Larkfire founder James McIntosh joined forces with Iain Faller, founder of The Island Spirit Whisky Shop, to hold the first “Whisky & Wild” tasting last month, which featured three whiskies from Jura and was presented by blogger and awards judge Matt Chambers.

The second tasting starred a trio of whiskies from Highland Park distillery on Orkney, and was presented by Eddie Ludlow, founder of The Whisky Lounge, which runs festivals, tastings and education courses.

McIntosh said: “We’re keen to support communities and businesses on the islands and were mulling over what we could do to help, just to raise spirits a little.

“We hope to unite many people in raising a glass during lockdown, supporting each other and promoting local businesses across the islands and beyond.”

Fuller had been due to move into new premises in April but instead has developed a home delivery service, with help from Business Gateway.

He said: “I had always dreamt of turning my hobby of collecting whiskies into a business, and after attending twenty Business Gateway workshops, I finally took the plunge.

“While I was not anticipating the current situation, the skills I gained from attending workshops equipped me with the confidence to diversify and utilise social media to advertise and market our business, without having the presence of our high street shop.

“I have been overwhelmed with the support and encouragement I have received from the local community and other local businesses.”

Fuller added: “The business support grant we applied for has helped keep the business on track with our original plan and prevented us from spending money allocated for stock purposes.

“Meanwhile, the valuable networking opportunities have led to collaborations with other local businesses, we have adapted our operations over the past few weeks to offer our customers a virtual tasting experience in their own homes.”

Derek Maclean, a business adviser with Business Gateway, said: “While the ongoing circumstances are not what anyone could have predicted, it has been brilliant to see how Iain has adapted, with the successful launch of his new service and I look forward to when Iain can open his shop so that customers can enjoy the experience he offers.”

Read more whisky stories on Scottish Field’s whisky pages.