First craft distillery and gin school now open in Lochaber, West Highlands.
Hotelier couple, Craig & Noru Innes, have opened the first craft distillery in Lochaber, West Highlands of Scotland. This West Highland Distillery operated by their company, Pixel Spirits, is also the first gin distillery in the area and has taken the couple 2 years to build and start up.
Lochaber being known as the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’ the couple wanted to name their first two releases after local landmarks. Devil’s Staircase is a Highland Spiced Gin with warm notes of cardamom and nutmeg (perfect winter gin!) by contrast Neptune’s Staircase is a Highland Dry Gin with sharp notes of nettle and seaweed.
The labels for the two gins have been designed by a well known Scottish illustrator, Iain McIntosh, best known for his illustrations for books by author Alexander McCall Smith.
Mr & Mrs Innes run a historic hotel (Loch Leven Hotel) in North Ballachulish near Glencoe and Fort William, the idea for starting their own craft distillery came to them 2 years ago when trying to source a gin branded for their hotel and were unable to find a distillery offering the product at a reasonable price (“buying it in at £75 a bottle hardly gives you any option of marking it up and making a profit!”).
The distillery has been converted from old farm byres on the land of the hotel, self-built from scratch, with the help of various friends and family members with most of the actual building work carried out by Craig and a member of staff from the hotel.
When they embarked upon this project, the couple initially wanted only to produce an outstanding gin for their bar, but the sheer amount of interest and local, regional and national support spurred them on to develop gins with a wider appeal, which meant that their initial plans also had to grow!
The first releases are now out, first two batches already sold out and pre-orders coming in for future runs.
The Gin School, which has had huge interest even internationally, is a 5 hour experience teaching the art of distilling using individual copper mini stills, participants developing their bespoke personal recipe. At the end of the class each scholar will take a full bottle of their own unique creation home with them. Each bottle carries a personalised label and the recipe is saved in a data base for future re-ordering.
The Gin School experience is suitable to anyone interested in gin distilling, whether they are a connoisseur or just wish to know more or experience and learn something new!
These are small classes to individuals, couples or small groups of up to 8 people.
Devil’s Staircase and Neptune’s Staircase can already be found at Loch Leven Hotel’s award winning ‘Old Ferry Bar’ which has an impressive number of gins on offer. Deliveries for pre-orders locally and around Scotland are being carried out over the next few weeks when the next batches of both products have matured and are ready to be enjoy.
Speaking to Craig about plans for 2018 he said:
'We are greatly looking forward to 2018. At the distillery we will continue perfecting our craft as well as developing new recipes. We will be fully launching our Gin School in Spring to be a regular occurrence during the busy spring and summer months to capture the buoyant tourism market in the area. We'll be growing our current brand and ensuring that our products are found in the places we want to be for growth. We have had fantastic interest in our bespoke creations for hotel's restaurants and bars and we see this as a great market to focus on, as it stays true to the very idea why we setup the distillery.
At the hotel, things are moving with great pace, we have been developing our restaurant offering and will continue this into the new year with the help of our Head Chef David Carruth. As Spring approaches we can't wait until our new ensuite pods arrive on-site to add to our accommodation offering. These will add a new dimension to Loch Leven Hotel by adding this premium glamping option to our portfolio, we'll increase not only our bed nights but also in turn our restaurant and bar turnover. All this from a dramatically scenic field behind the hotel with a view of the sunset that is to die for.'
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