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New gin edition marks countdown to Shetland rocket launches

The new Shetland Reel Countdown gin.
The new Shetland Reel Countdown gin.

A distillery based on Unst has released a new edition of its gin to mark the role of the UK’s most northerly inhabited island in Scotland’s space race.

Shetland Reel Countdown is produced at Saxa Vord, close to where a spaceport to launch rockets carrying satellites into orbit is planned.

Shetland Space Centre has applied for planning permission to develop the facility and hopes to start launches there next year.

Distillery director Debbie Strang, whose husband Frank is behind the space centre plans, said creating the new gin edition was a way of marking the start of the project.

A rocket launch site is planned on Unst.

Mrs Strang said: “It’s a very exciting time for us here at Shetland Reel. Not only is the distillery reopening to the public after a challenging 2020, but we’re also looking forward to welcoming a whole new industry to the islands in the form of the Shetland Space Centre.

“Having Europe’s premiere spaceport facilitating small satellite launch facilities right here on our doorstep is a massive coup for Shetland, hopefully bringing in lots of jobs and boosting the local economy.

“Our new Countdown Gin is a way of marking the start of the project and giving the people of Shetland, who have always supported us, a delicious new gin to enjoy ahead of the first satellite launch next year.”

Scott Hammond, Shetland Space Centre Operations Director, added: “The establishment of the Shetland Space Centre in Unst will create many opportunities for businesses throughout Shetland, from local engineering companies becoming involved to support launch activities or a local B&B owner welcoming interested visitors.

“We are delighted about the release of Countdown Gin and I for one will definitely be marking the occasion with a celebratory G&T.”

According to its makers, the Countdown edition is Shetland Reel’s Original Gin, “packed with more juniper, more spice and more citrus.”

The distillery is located in the ex-supplies building of the former RAF Saxa Vord site on Unst.

Unst is one of three Scottish sites where the development of vertical launch spaceports is being planned.  The others are in Sutherland and the Outer Hebrides.

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