Bill Garnock gave up a successful career in America to return to the East Neuk of Fife to achieve a dream of owning his own drinks company.
Since his early 20s, the Fifer had worked for top alcohol brands in roles that took him to New York, Los Angeles, Florida and Texas.
But he was never far from being reminded of home when he saw Scottish whisky and gin in premium stores.
Feeling inspired by the power of the “Made in Scotland” label, he decided to return to the Kilconquhar area to start his own business.
Return to Fife to ‘take a risk’
“I had reached the stage in my career where I was willing to take a risk,” he said about his return to Scotland two years ago.
“I felt I’d learned enough to put my full heart behind something that was my own product.
“So I wanted to come back to Fife to grow something from the ground here.”
Instead of trying his hand at another whisky or gin, Mr Garnock teamed up with business partner James Wild to investigate the emerging growing non-alcohol spirit category.
Non-alcohol spirit with heritage and craft
They developed Feragaia over 18 months. It uses 14 land and sea botanicals including chamomile, seaweed, blackcurrant and bay leaf.
It sells for around £25 for a 500ml bottle, it can be drunk with a tonic, soda or as part of a cocktail.
“We wanted to honour the heritage and craft of Scottish distilling, just with no alcohol,” the 29-year-old Fife businessman said.
“There was a lot of experimenting and trial and error. What we ended up with is something unique, using Scottish ingredients, which has a fresh, vibrant, adult taste.
“Part of our innovation is we don’t touch alcohol. Other brands distil alcohol off, but we do not using alcohol at all.”
Strategy pays off with Harrods deal
They started selling the product in August last year, targeting being stocked in the best bars, hotels and restaurants in cities like London, Edinburgh and Glasgow. By May, Feragaia was stocked in more than 100 outlets.
Meanwhile 1,000 litre production runs, carried out at an undisclosed Scottish distillery, increased from every three months to every month. Production will double again in January.
The firm has now earned a deal to be stocked in Harrods. Mr Garnock thinks this will be a platform to get into other premium stores in the UK.
He also believes it will help launch exports of the drink to North America and the Middle East.
“Our bottles are sitting prominently in a five-star display, rubbing shoulders with other leading drinks brands.
“The initial response has been extremely positive and Feragaia is selling well.
Big plans for 2021
“I can’t quite believe we launched a year ago and have endured the worst pandemic of recent years, but we’ve had this success.
“It’s what dreams are made of.
“We’ve had phenomenal growth in a year where we’ve been locked up for half a year. So what’s our potential in a booming market?
“In 2021 we want to become more established in the domestic market, adding more premium retailers like Harrods.
“We also want to establish supply chains to export markets.”
Fife Council’s business support
Feragaia met the buyer from Harrods while exhibiting at Scotland’s Speciality Food Show in Glasgow in January.
The company was supported by Fife Council’s economic development team to attend.
Ann Camus, enterprise and business development manager at Fife Council, said: “Feragaia is a fantastic example of a start-up business that has benefited enormously from our trade development programme.
“Attending exhibitions – which allow for the showcase of products and services, opportunities to meet buyers face to face, and to develop brand awareness – creates the opportunity to expand domestically as well as internationally.”