A gin distiller in the Highlands has been forced to launch an innovative venture – which he has inventively called ‘crowdforaging’ – in a bid to meet high levels of demand for his product.

Walter Micklethwait was running the risk of running out on the essential ingredients for his popular Crossbill Gin, with the bulk of his alcohol being snapped up by Gordon & MacPhail.

After being virtually cleaned out of his stocks of the newly-launched gin, he issued a plea for wannabe pickers to come forward to gather juniper berries and rosehips which are required for distillation of the alcohol.

The ‘call to arms’ was answered by an intrepid group of of pickers who have earned themselves £7-a-kilo – with many gathering up to nine kilos in one day.

The Inshriach Distillery owned by Walter Micklethwait. Picture: SWNS

The Inshriach Distillery owned by Walter Micklethwait. Picture: SWNS

Now Mr Micklethwait believes he has amassed enough berries to produce gin for the next 12 months.

But only three weeks ago he was afraid he would not have the required stocks, given the increased interest in the new gin, which he claims is the only one made from Scottish juniper.

Mr Micklethwaite said: “Gordon and MacPhail were increasing their orders because of demand for our gin, and virtually cleaned us out.

“I was worried we would not be able to gather enough berries to keep up with demand in the next year, particularly with winter coming, so decided to launch my crowdforaging idea.

“We have all heard of crowdfunding, where people make financial contributions to businesses, and I decided to adapt it for Crossbill Gin purposes.”

He claims the venture has been a massive success.

Only around half a dozen people answered his appeal, but they have managed to gather enough berries – a staggering 210 kilos – to now meet demand for the next year.

Of the thousands of bottles he is now planning to produce over the coming months, around 60% are being sold to Gordon and MacPhail.

The gin and Mr Micklethwaite’s Inshriach Estate, near Aviemore, shot to fame earlier this year when he won the Channel 4 ‘Shed of the Year’ competition – where the Crossbill Gin is distilled.

The gin has been shortlisted for Europe’s Gin of the Year award at the Craft Distilling Expo, a contest open to European Craft Gins released since 2014.

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