The North Highland Regeneration Fund managing agent went on a visit to Dunnet Bay Distillers to catch up with the team behind internationally acclaimed Rock Rose Gin to discuss their current position, as well as their exciting plans for the future.
It is clear that the business as a whole is doing extremely well, excelling and surpassing all expectations of where they would be at this time. Claire and Martin Murray are delighted to share that the turnover for this year’s gin production is looking close to 25,000 bottles – a significant advance on their projected figure of 15,375.
In June 2015, the Rock Rose team are beginning production of a new, more specialist Navy strength gin, which is the strength most commonly used in wine bars. The Murrays have long expressed their ambition to branch out into the production of vodka, and hope to start this later in the summer.
Dunnet Bay Distillers are currently poised to open their doors to the public, as the final touches to the premises near completion. A lot of work has been undertaken in the last month or so to bring the far north's newest distillery up to scratch. Claire's father has been working on the premises, creating wooden panels to smarten up the look, more pleasing to the eye and creating a better visitor experience.
The team still have a few adjustments to finalise, but are very nearly ready to welcome visitors for a distillery tour and a taste of their award-winning Rock Rose gin. The Murrays have recently employed a guide for the distillery tours.
One of the many improvements to the site has been a geodome, which will house botanicals used in the gin-making process, allowing them to cultivate their own ingredients for more sustainable produce. Their in-house botanist, Hanna, has built the dome herself and now has a permanent home in which to grow the produce, including juniper and lemons. Hanna is aiming to grow enough botanicals and garnishes to produce a ‘garden batch’ with wholly their own produce.
The team have also been working with a local biodiversity project to encourage and protect the growth of local botanicals, including establishing juniper cuttings.
June will sees the award-winningly beautiful Rock Rose Gin bottle get even better.
Dunnet Bay Distillers are leaving the paper label behind and moving to a screen printed bottle. The design, colours, ceramic bottles and tactile touch will all remain the same but the bottle will look that little bit more special.
Dunnet Bay Distillers have been working with highly talented illustrator, Sarah Smart, whose clients include Twinings, Harvey Nichols and Diet Coke. Sarah’s beautiful illustrations will be used across a variety of Rock Rose marketing materials and platforms.
Their unique Rock Rose gin has won two major awards to date: Best new product lunch design – World Gin Awards, Denmark, and Bronze medal for gin at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. They were also shortlisted for the finals of the Scottish Excellence Awards, where only one whisky, one vodka and one gin were shortlisted for the accolade.
At present, Dunnet Bay Distillers employs two full-time staff, Martin and Claire, three part-time local staff, including their botanist Hanna, and two people on a contractual basis from further south – one sales and one PR.