Undeterred by a global pandemic, and heartened by incredible community support and a crowdfund that raised £25,000, the Isle of Cumbrae Distillers have launched their signature gin - Nostalgin.
The Isle of Cumbrae Distillers are five women who met as strangers just over a year ago in a Millport bar to discuss fundraising ideas for the local town hall. It was during this meeting where they realised their shared love of gin and decided to open a distillery.
With support from neighbouring distillery, Isle of Bute Gin, they created their signature recipe, learned distillation techniques and utilised their unique story to create their own unique brand.
The five Millport women, who hail from the UK, Canada and the US, form one of the only all-female distilling teams in Scotland, and demand for their first batch of gin outweighed supply.
In addition to a large group of loyal Facebook fans and community supporters, the group received huge support from North Ayrshire Council, who found a solution to the cancellation of licencing boards, which allowed the distillery to open on the 16 September.
Business Gateway Ayrshire, provided training and advising support along the way and Interface Scotland connected the group with Scottish Universities for intern support as they look for ways to bring more tourists to Millport when they are fully operational and have tasting, tours and workshops.
Several others with island connections were quick to come forward with expertise, including master mixologist Dillon Barrie of Raise the Bar, Glasgow, who helped the group develop their signature cocktail, the ‘Hush Hush’.
The crowdfund in May raised £21,000 for equipment, intern support and to furnish a gin school. The team also received a generous surprise donation from Blair and Moira Miller of BM Engineering Supplies Ltd. of Glasgow, who purchased their still outright and paid for an important safety inspection.
Local artists have also played an important role in this project, with artist Jack Sutton designing the gin label and his father, Harry Sutton, creating a mural of Millport bays in the distillery to recognise crowdfund supporters and inspire visitors to explore Cumbrae’s beautiful island beaches.
The Isle of Cumbrae Distillers launched Nostalgin on 16 September.
The name pays tribute to the tremendous feelings of nostalgia so many hold for the island, especially those who spent family summers “doon the watter” in the 50s and 60s.
The main botanicals of lavender and brambles are meant to mimic the feelings of calm that islanders and visitors alike speak of regarding their eight minute ferry ride from the mainland to the island.
Next in the works is Croc Rock gin and plans are underway to showcase Clyde Island gins with neighbouring Bute and Arran, in collaboration with CalMac and the new touring route, The Coig.
What of the Millport Town Hall that started all this? News of a £1.5 million boost has recently been announced to move the project forward. Isle of Cumbrae Distillers is committed to investing 5 per cent of profits to support this and other community projects.
To find out more about the distillery and Nostalgin please visit the Isle of Cumbrae Distillers website.
Scran episode 4: The botanics of gin - with Hamish Martin of the Secret Herb Garden