What made you decide to create Isle of Bute?
Crafted with love and care in the west of Scotland, Isle of Bute Small Batch Gin is inspired by its island home. Head Distiller, Simon Tardivel, fell in love with the Isle of Bute while working there. He decided to source botanicals from the Isle and nearby areas to create unique craft gins showcasing the true spirit of Scotland: our delicious Gorse Gin and incomparable Oyster Gin.
The company was founded via a chance encounter at an industry event when distiller Simon was introduced to the Glasgow-based Merchant City Brewing Co (MCB). Simon and MCB share an appreciation for craft beverage production and a desire to explore the increasingly diverse gin market. Our partnership culminated in late 2018 with the purchase of a gorgeous 200L copper still and larger scale production began. Simon travels to the Isle of Bute regularly to forage for botanicals.
Can you tell us more about the distillery and botanicals?
Our distiller Simon is a self-confessed drinks nerd and loves experimenting with all sorts of new botanicals. It was Simon who came up with the strange idea to test our oyster shells in the gin, inspired by Bute’s picturesque waters. It was a fine-tuning process over many batches, but we have now launched what we believe to be a world first. We charge our still with oysters fresh from the Argyll Coast to add a delicate maritime essence. This, when blended with a mix of citrus botanicals, creates a savoury gin which is a perfect pair to seafood. You will also find Simon on the island regularly foraging for fresh gorse flower, which we source exclusively from Mount Stuart on the Isle.
What have been the biggest challenges and achievements so far?
The hardest issue we have had to face is working out our route back to distilling on the Isle. However it’s fair to say that everything does happen for a reason and we are thrilled to be involved in developing our home in the heart of the Bute community.
How are plans to create distillery on the Isle of Bute progressing?
Although currently based in Glasgow, we are committed to establishing a permanent home on the Isle in 2020 and are thrilled to become a part of the wider ‘Bute Kitchen’ collective, an exciting craft food and drinks hub on the Isle. We will relocate our 200L still and hope to work with local talent to expand our gin range and experiment with more of the local botanicals the Isle has to offer. As anchor tenants, our distillery will be neighbouring with like-minded people who realise the opportunity for Scottish craft produce to make its mark in the food and beverage industry. Collaboration and the ambition showcase the best of Isle of Bute is a driving force behind the hub. The spirt of collaboration has already commenced with local fish smoker 'Richie's of Rothesay' producing an Isle of Bute Oyster Gin cured Salmon and we plan to garnish our signature pours with 'Bute Produce' in the hub. Once established, you will find this spirit of community at the heart of our distillery.
What's your favourite way to drink Isle of Bute Gin?
Subtly fragrant with juniper and delicately balanced with citrus. The light floral sweetness of our Gorse Gin is perfect for a classic G&T. However our favourite combination has to be our Oyster Gin in a Bloody Mary with a pinch of cracked pepper. We can think of no better way to start a Sunday brunch.
What gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than Isle of Bute Gin of course!)?
Stirling Gin is a hands down favourite for myself and Simon, we love the zesty orange and basil taste. We also love weird botanical experiments, such as Sheep’s Whey gin from Tasmania. Some other small batch Australian gins are big favourites of ours – Sink Hole gin, Prohibition gin and Patient Wolf Gin.
What's next for Isle of Bute Gin - any exciting plans?
Collaboration and the ambition to showcase the best of Isle of Bute is a driving force behind our business. We want to do business with like-minded people who realise the opportunity for Scottish craft produce to make its mark in the food and beverage industry.