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Gael Spirit: Perthshire gin firm inspired by Dougie MacLean tune wins export deal

The team behind the Gael Spirit Company: Nigel and Beverley Large, Tanya Brown and Jamie MacLean.
The team behind the Gael Spirit Company: Nigel and Beverley Large, Tanya Brown and Jamie MacLean.

A Perthshire gin company named after a Dougie MacLean fiddle tune and co-owned by the folk icon’s son has struck its first international deal.

The Gael Spirit Company was launched by industry veteran Nigel Large last year in partnership with his wife Beverley and friends Jamie MacLean and his partner Tanya Brown.

The Gael Signature Gin is five times distilled from malted barley using a blend of traditional botanicals and a hint of Scottish heather.

Produced by the Strathleven distillery in Dumbarton, its name is inspired by Scottish fiddle tune The Gael which Dougie Maclean wrote as a commission for The Loch Ness Visitor Centre.

Dougie MacLean.

It was subsequently featured in the soundtrack for the movie The Last Of The Mohicans and is played by pipe bands and fiddlers the world over.

International expansion

Gael Spirit Company recently started exporting to Denmark and has plans to target France and Canada in 2021.

Mr Large said: “Scotland has a phenomenal reputation for gin production, and our product is steeped in this heritage, from the name of our business to the fact that all production is based here.

“Looking forward, while Covid-19 has disrupted our plans, we remain on track to achieve our growth objectives in 2021 and continue our expansion into key global markets, with the potential of taking on more employees further down the line.”

Strategy support from Business Gateway

The company’s growth strategy has been supported by Business Gateway which assisted with a strategy planning workshop covering sales projections, marketing strategy, product development and routes to funding.

Gael Spirit Company gin

Their adviser also signposted the team towards further support from Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International, who were able to assist with potential international trade obstacles and ensured the expansion strategy was robust.

Mr Large added: “I was aware of Business Gateway and the support it could potentially provide, so I wanted to engage with the team early to ensure we were in the strongest possible position.

“Our adviser was helpful and supportive, pointing us in the right direction on a number of occasions, and was able to evaluate our growth strategy and identify what we should be looking at in certain markets so that we could achieve our export goals.”

The Gael Spirit Company also accessed 1:1 support from a Business Gateway adviser, innovation support and advice on funding.

Don’t fear international expansion

Andrew Webster, adviser at Business Gateway, said: “Nigel and his team have worked tirelessly to create a uniquely Scottish product that boasts a distinctive taste and strong brand.

“They have a fantastic story to tell. By developing their growth strategy and expanding into new markets, they will have the opportunity to reach many more customers, giving them the chance to try their premium product.

“Many businesses may be wary about how to expand into new markets, particularly given ongoing uncertainty because of the pandemic and the UK’s exit from the EU.

“However, our team is on hand to provide a strategic review of business plans and point you in the right direction so you have all the information and support you need before taking that leap so you can make the most of the huge potential offered by new markets.”

Earlier this year, Folk singer Dougie Maclean fought back tears as he paid tribute to frontline NHS staff during a virtual concert from his Perthshire pad.

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