Family-owned north-east bakery chain Murdoch Allan has branched out into vodka-making.
Its new business offshoot, Still Spirited, is aimed at the luxury end of the drink market.
Murdoch Allan’s bakery in Hatton, Aberdeenshire, is best known for its legendary butteries and award-winning pies.
But a very different product is finding its way onto the retail market after some Covid lockdown diversification planning.
The idea for Still Spirited was born when Paul Allan, the bakery chain’s managing director, decided to try his hand at distilling, and successfully created a vodka and gin.
Potential supermarket supply deal
Batch-distilled at 40% ABV, the single malt vodka is made from scratch using locally sourced ingredients including malted wheat and water.
It is already stocked in some independent retailers and bars around the north-east.
Mr Allan and his wife, Katrina, are now in talks with a major supermarket about a potential supply deal.
“Lockdown was a time when people tried their hand at different things, Mr Allan said, adding: “For me it meant learning about the distilling process.
“As a baker to trade, I used my knowledge and understanding on how to combine different ingredients to create the smoothest spirit possible, and I was delighted when I successfully perfected my own vodka and gin.
“Once we knew there would be a demand for the drink, we had larger distilling facilities built at our bakery headquarters in Hatton to enable us to make batches of Still Spirited.
Katrina has been in charge of the tasting process.”
Paul Allan, managing director, Murdoch Allan
“Ironically I don’t drink, so Katrina has been in charge of the tasting process. We are really pleased with the smoothness of the end result.”
Mrs Allan said: “Sustainability is key to our bakery produce and we have continued this ethos in the creation of Still Spirited, using the finest locally sourced ingredients, alongside a very clean distilling process.
“The end result is an extremely smooth product, with hints of vanilla and toffee, without the burning sensation you would normally associate with vodka.
According to Mr and Mrs Allan, Still Spirited has had “fantastic reviews” from those who have tried it.
Still Spirited vodka retails at £36 for a standard-sized 70cl bottle. The new business has its own website, stillspirited.co.uk
Murdoch Allan started in 1991, when Murdoch and Caroline Allan bought Reid’s bakery in Fraserburgh. The current MD, a third-generation craft baker, joined his parents’ business fresh from college in Aberdeen at the same time.
The firm then acquired Robb’s bakery in Strichen, famous for its oatcakes and butter biscuits. Product ranges increased as well as the supply of corner shops and independent supermarkets.
In 2002, with the long-established Simmers factory in Hatton due for closure by owners United Biscuits, a deal was struck for Murdoch Allan to take over the factory and maintain production in the village. As a result, local jobs were safeguarded and turnover virtually doubled overnight.
Murdoch Allan now operate six retail outlets in the north-east offering fresh bakery goods and takeaway meals. It has shops in Hatton, Aberdeen, Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Mintlaw and Turriff. The firm’s products are also sold through leading supermarkets.