A couple who started off distilling gin as a hobby from their garden shed have grown it into a successful business which is now employing two members of staff.
Esker Spirits, Royal Deeside’s first artisan gin distillery, was founded by husband and wife, Steven and Lynne Duthie.
Founded in 2015, the Esker Spirits concept was simple; to produce a classic but full flavoured gin complemented by mixers and garnish, not defined by them. Now, the company produces a multi-award winning product at a distillery in the Scottish Highlands.
Esker is the first Scottish gin to use silver birch sap, which the team taps from the trees on the estate where the distillery is based.
The couple, who have always been gin fans, first started distilling in their garden shed as a hobby and have since expanded their distillery operations, moving to a larger premises and an upscaling of their stills.
Esker Spirits was Aberdeenshire and Royal Deeside’s first gin distillery, and the company has utilised funding from Virgin StartUp to expand the business and increase their production capability by 400%, from producing a few thousand bottles of gin, to over 50,000 bottles a year.
The funding has also allowed Esker Spirits to take on its first employees, an admin assistant and driver, with hopes to employ more over the coming year.
Mr Duthie, founder of Esker Spirits, said: “Lynne and I have always been gin fans, distilling the gin in our garden shed began as a hobby, so it’s crazy to think that it’s now grown into our own business.
Provenance is paramount for us and so all Esker’s spirits are distilled and bottled at our own distillery. This is a vision that has been realised with the help of Virgin Start Up.
“As well as local sourcing, local recruitment has also been key, and it’s great we’ve been able to take on our first team member within our first year. We’re also in the process of assembling a larger team to help assist with the events and festivals we have going on.
“Having the access to Virgin StartUp has had direct benefits to our business, not just through the loan but also the access to mentoring and business advice as well. We’re already looking to the future, with the hope to expand Esker Gin commercially as well as incorporating tourism into the business, with a shop, tours and tastings running in the future.”
A total of 69 entrepreneurs across Scotland have received a share of over £1.2million in StartUp loan funding last year.