What made you decide to create a new gin?
My wife Aly and I are both 'born and bred' Orcadians and we live in Kirkwall where we grew up, and we really wanted to create a high quality new brand for Orkney that was reflective of us and the place we come from. We started Orkney Distilling Ltd in February this year and we developed our first product, Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin in the months following and released to market during the first week in August 2016. We're really happy with what we've made and are receiving great feedback so far.
What's the distillery like?
At present we're clearing an old warehouse site on Kirkwall's seafront. It's going to become our new distillery and visitor centre, and will offer a tasting room that overlooks the harbour and seafront.
What's the story behind the name?
Kirkjuvagr (pronounced 'kirk-u-vaar') is the thousand year old Viking name for our town, Kirkwall. It means 'church in the bay' and was as much a descriptive term as a place name when it was first used. It was an identifiable place for sailors to head to.
What has the journey been like since you launched?
It's been lots of work, but it's all been really positive! We've had great fun with so many people in the industry, and everyone's been really positive! We've been very focused on properly attending to each market we enter properly, and so have been deliberately slow in distributing in any sort of volume off-island to date. Once we got a good system in place to supply the Northern Isles and Northern Scotland, we decided to start making inroads into Central Scotland and further afield.
How would you describe your gin in 3 words?
What makes Kirkjuvagr Gin different?
It really is a premium spirit. We're Distilling in a 100L still in small batches, and our botanicals are of extremely high quality as a result of our association with the Agronomy Institute of the University of the Highlands and Islands. What we grew in Orkney last summer really has had a fantastic effect on the end product. So far we've managed to convert numerous people to become gin drinkers, and everyone who tries the product always comes back for more!
What's your favourite way to drink your gin?
In a large gin cocktail glass, add a large piece of orange peel, a couple of ice cubes, and some fever tree tonic.
What are your favourite gins (other than your own of course!)?
Caorunn Gin and Crossbill are enduring favourites of Aly and I. They're both premium Scottish Gins and are both fantastic! Our nearest neighbour, Rock Rose is also a really nice gin.
What's next for Kirkjuvagr Gin?
We hope to attract in excess of 10,000 visitors per year to our new premises from next Summer. We'll be developing new products and offering exciting new visitor experiences from opening next August.