Carnoustie Distillery, thought to be the country’s smallest, was selected to supply its best-selling vodka to the national supermarket chain.
Can you imagine starting out a distilling business in your back garden shed and three years later supplying a major supermarket chain?
Well, that’s exactly what has been achieved by Carnoustie Distillery whose white chocolate vodka is featured in Lidl’s Scottish Craft Spirits Festival which began on Thursday November 5.
The distillery was started in 2017 by Billy Duncan and his son, Jory, with their rum, gin and vodka creations sold locally.
However, the latest deal with discount supermarket Lidl has seen their products showcased throughout the country – and they seem to be selling out fast!
Billy explained: “How it came about was I sent Lidl some stuff and told them about our business – that it was a family-run distillery, father and son, and we get help from granddad and granny, and they loved the story of it.
“We are very patriotic Scottish and want to show the rest of the world what Scotland can give, and Lidl liked that and came back and asked if we could supply our best-selling product and that was the white chocolate vodka.
“It is the first time we have had something sold by a major supermarket and it’s definitely one of our biggest orders to date.
“All of our products are made on site, my son is the distiller and we make everything from scratch. We take great pride and love what we do.”
However, it seems that the white chocolate tipple quickly proved popular with Lidl shoppers, with a customer getting in touch with Billy and Jory from Penicuik to say they had sold out.
“The vodka went into the shops late on Wednesday night and we got an email from a lady who went in late that night and bought a bottle,” revealed Billy.
“She loved the label and everything about it and thought ‘I’m going to buy three more as Christmas presents’, so she went back on Thursday morning to Penicuik Lidl and they were sold out. We’re really chuffed about that to be honest.”
Billy and Jory started the Carnoustie Distillery in 2017 when Jory came home from Dundee & Angus College where he studying psychology and said to his dad that he would like to start a business – and the venture was born.
“We have got a log cabin now, but we started off about three years ago in a small garden shed and we were on TV as the smallest distillery in Scotland. We do all our own distilling and we don’t buy anything in,” continued Billy.
“But the wind blew the shed down, so we bought the log cabin and Jory now does everything from the log cabin.”
It’s not just vodka that Carnoustie Distillery produces, with other spirits featuring in their range.
Billy added: “We do gin and rum as well. We are big rum guys and we make rum from organic molasses. We have a dark rum, a spiced rum and we even have a ‘Carnasty Rum’ which is 67% volume so our rum products, which are pure Scottish rum, are getting a lot of traction at the moment.”
And could the exposure lead to more supermarket contracts for the father and son distilling duo?
“I’m not sure,” said Billy. “Lidl have asked us to do more and they have asked us about gin and we will definitely look at that, but they are speaking about next March for that.
“We’re just a family-run business; Jory does the distilling, bottling and labelling, I do all his paperwork, markets and shops, granddad does all the deliveries and granny does a lot as well.”
“It is a purely family business, but in the future, maybe 10 years’ time, we would love to have a unit in Carnoustie and do tours and tastings. We would love to expand, but times are really tough at the moment with Covid so we are keeping our heads down and doing our best while this is happening and try to get through it.
“We would love to have a place which people could visit and have a wee drink. However, that’s a long way off.”
Described as a smooth vodka infused with a hint of white chocolate to give a satisfying velvety taste, the spirit is 25% vol and is best enjoyed straight over ice.
Paul McQuade, head of buying in Scotland, said: “At Lidl, we’re firmly committed to supporting and championing local producers, and are incredibly proud of our expansive Scottish product range.
“We’re delighted to be launching a collection of quality Scottish spirits in our upcoming festival, our first Scottish Craft Spirits festival showcasing some of the best distilleries from all across the country. Our line-up features a brilliant range of spirits and drinks that are great for winter and offer our customers great value for some superb premium spirits.”