Glasgow based distillery and gin school Crossbill announces plans to expand

A Glasgow based distillery and gin school has announced plans to expand after reaching capacity despite only moving to the city just under two years ago.

Published 18th Dec 2018
Updated 18 th Sep 2023

Crossbill founder Jonathan Engels made the decision after the popularity of the gin school exploded alongside growing demand for his products in new markets in Europe.

The plans will see the current facility at Barras Art and Design (BAaD) on Moncur Street expand into a second unit next door creating space for a second still and bar, as well as seeing the creation of a greenhouse in a penned in courtyard at the back of the unit.

Mr Engels said: “The expansion will enable us to continue to run the gin school and increase production at the same time. Previously I was having to juggle both, but now we will have two completely separate areas for the experience and for distilling.”

The distilling site was only set up in the summer of 2017 after the producer moved the operation to Glasgow when it outgrew its previous home on the Inschriach estate in Aviemore due to high demand for its Crossbill gin.

The 12 people capacity Gin School opened a few months later and was set up to provide a space for people to come and learn about the processes behind gin making and originally only ran on the second Saturday of every month.

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However, thanks to the growing popularity of Scottish gin and an article by the New York Times which named the school in its top ’52 places to go in 2018’, bookings have shot up and now they are having to run six a week.

The new greenhouse will enable them to grow a variety of botanicals regularly used in gin production such as Angelica, Thyme and Basil as well as a variety of fruits, meaning guests of the school can use the freshest ingredients possible to create their gins.

Mr Engels said: “Adding the ability to pick your own ingredients will completely transform the level of quality we will be able to produce at the gin school.

“It will mean that the people attending can come in, see the botanicals we are growing on site and then pick them straight away and use them quickly, which will greatly improve the product they can make as well as allowing us to experiment with what we can grow for our own products.”

The Crossbill founder stated that the inspiration for the greenhouse came from the distillery that was local to him when he was growing up, Glen Garioch, which used heated greenhouses on its grounds to produce tomatoes in the 1980s.

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He said: “What has always troubled me is the amount of waste heat produced in the distilling process and thanks to these plans I can now use the hot water coming off the condensers and put it into a hot water storage tank in the courtyard, which we can use to heat the south facing greenhouse to the rear of the distillery.

Work is slated to begin in January with plans to finish the project by spring 2019, though Mr Engels concedes the licencing for the bar may take a little longer.
The distiller added that once the build is complete he will also be taking on two new full time members of staff.

The proposal also includes plans for new signage, which is something that Mr Engels believes the site badly needs.

He said: ”One of the things that people kept telling us was that they couldn’t find us, so we’ve created signage that seems entirely appropriate for the area - as the Barras is not a place that’s ever been subtle with its signs, we’re are going to create a big six foot high illuminated Crossbill logo above our door, making it easier for people to locate us.”

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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