Two Scottish family drinks businesses unite to save much-loved gin

Two award-winning Scottish businesses have teamed up amid challenges facing the industry.

Published 14th Feb 2024
Updated 14 th Feb 2024

Family-owned Jackton distillery has invested in the McLean's Gin brand, to help secure the future of its Somthing Blue gin.

Home of RAER Scotch Whisky and Jackton Spirits brands, Jackton Distillery is located within the buildings of the Family’s farm in Jackton, on the outskirts of East Kilbride.

In 2023, the Jackton Distillery team were presented with an opportunity to invest in McLean's Something Blue gin, as the husband and wife team behind the brand were considering shutting down operations.

McLean's Gin started life in the cupboard of Colin and Jessica’s one-bedroom tenement flat in the Southside of Glasgow in 2017.

Inspired by a Christmas gift; a "make-your-own-gin" kit received from his in-laws in 2015, McLean's Gin began as a part-time passion project for "head ginologist" Colin McLean, gradually developing into a full-time endeavour when the couple upped sticks for larger premises on the outskirts of Strathaven, South Lanarkshire.  

In an increasingly saturated market, McLean's found their niche with the creation of Something Blue - a "wedding gin", created to celebrate the marriage of the founders and featuring the unusual partnership of their two favourite botanicals.

Although initially intended as a limited-edition release of just 150 bottles, with its unique flavour profile, authentic story, delicate presentation and "magical" colour change, Something Blue quickly went on to become McLean's most popular product.  

Despite the success of Something Blue and the wider McLean’s Gin brand, Colin and Jessica - like many other Scottish producers - began to grow increasingly concerned by the threats facing their business and the wider drinks industry in 2022.

On the cards then was the Deposit Return Scheme and proposals to seriously restrict alcohol marketing, coupled with a barrage of steep increases to spirits duty, business rates, utilities, and production costs.

Jackton Mclean's something blue gin
Picture: McLean's Gin

Continuing with McLean's Gin had become almost impossible, so Colin was giving serious thoughts to closing down.

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But, at a meeting during at Jackton as part of a Lanarkshire Larder Discovery Tour, the decision to team up was made.

Now, Jackton Distillery has re-released McLean’s Gin’s “Something Blue” in time for Valentine's day and the spring.

This move was hinted at late last year, when Colin wrote on the McLean's Gin Facebook that challenges and life changes had meant that he was winding things down at McLean's Gin.

He wrote: "As Head Ginologist, Bottle Washer, Box Packer, Accountant, Admin Assistant, Content Manager, Delivery Driver, Sales & Marketing Manager, Customer Service Manager, Web Developer, Social Media Manager, Botanical Forager and everything in-between, I realised some time ago that we'd taken McLean's Gin as far as we could…single-handedly, at least.

"And so, after a great deal of deliberation, I'm writing today to let you all know that we're now in the process of winding things down at McLean's Gin. There's limited stock of some of our hand-crafted products in our Gin Lab which are still available at www.mcleansgin.co.uk/shop; as well as on the shelves of some of our loyal retail partners. But when this stock is gone…that's it. It's gone.

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"Don't feel sad…we don't! Why? Well…A "Raer" opportunity has arisen, and we'll have some very exciting news to share with you very soon. "

More information on McLean's Something Blue gin and all other spirits can be found at the Raer website.

Jackton, Glasgow, UK
Jackton, Glasgow, UK, G75 8RR
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Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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