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North-east couple launch new spirits firm with premium gin their first release

Laura Punzano and Neil Thomson.
Laura Punzano and Neil Thomson.

A couple who were inspired by their love of food and drink to try to create their own gin have finally launched it nearly a year after the recipe was perfected due to a delay as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Partners Laura Punzano and Neil Thomson who live in Portlethen, Aberdeenshire, have finally brought their premium Scottish gin to the market after experimenting with a variety of botanicals with their own small still at home for more than a year and a half.

The couple are now working with Aboyne-based distillers, Lost Loch Spirits, who will distil their gin on mass in order to generate enough bottles commercially.

Hundreds of recipe variations resulted in their final gin which is the first product from their drinks firm Tipple Spirits Company.

Tipple Gin has now launched.

Initially, the couple have made 360 bottles of Tipple Gin for the launch, however, more than half of the stock has sold prior to launch due to pre-order success and local stockists’ interest in stocking it.

Desired taste

The gin is a London Dry style and Laura and Neil used a range of local botanicals to attain their desired taste.

Laura, who works as an account manager in business and client management, is currently on maternity leave with their seven-month-old son, Aiden, while Neil works as a mechanical engineer.

Laura Punzano and Neil Thomson, pictured with their son Aiden.

She said: “We’re both really passionate about food and drink and I think that’s why we wanted to start our own gin company. I have a food blog called Pinch of Punzano.

“I love to cook so it is my own space to share that although I haven’t done much since we launched the drinks firm and we had our baby. Neil is also a musician part-time and he plays gigs in Aberdeen, more so pre-Coivd-19 and pre-baby.

“We wanted to create something that didn’t just have the taste of a contemporary London Dry gin, but also had the sweetness you get from sweeter gins. We felt there was a market for a really nice dry gin, or very sweet gins with a lot of flavourings.

Neil Thomson experimenting with flavours at home.

“We wanted something in between that and worked on the recipe for 19 months at home to get it right. We experimented with botanicals a lot until we were happy with the recipe, there was a lot of trial and error and a lot of jars in our kitchen.

“We’re now distilling at Lost Loch Distillery and we’ve been working with them to further develop the recipe. We did our first run of gin in June 2020 so it has been sitting mellowing for the last year or so, ready to be bottled up.”

Local botanicals

Using a variety of botanicals that are sourced or made locally, Laura and Neil are proud of the new spirit they have created and are delighted to be showcasing honey maker Ian Smith’s products.

Neil said: “The gin has been flavoured with locally-sourced honey from Ian Smith in Aboyne. There’s rosemary and damson berries, which is the main berry in it, it is really fruity, herby and has a bit of spice to it.

Some of the botanicals Laura and Neil experimented with while trialling the gin at home.

“There’s also a nice sweetness from the honey as well. It is really smooth and the first batch was a 400 still litre run so we’ll get around 360 70cl bottles out of it. It is 42% ABV.”

Where available?

For launch, the couple have secured listings in stores including Aberdeen Whisky Shop, JK Fine Foods, Inverurie Whisky Shop, Fountainhall Wines in Aberdeen and Stonehaven and more. The gin is also available to purchase online, too.

Laura added: “Aberdeen Whisky Shop has purchased 10 cases of the gin from us and it will also be available on our website. We have other local stockists, too, and we’re hoping some local bars and restaurants will stock it soon.

Neil and Laura are looking forward to experimenting with other spirits in the future.

“We’ve already started thinking about the flavours for our next gin, but we do love whisky as we are massive whisky fans. That is our dream in the future, to be able to produce our own gin and possibly a whisky!

“We are so excited about launching and we can’t believe half of the bottles have sold already. It takes six weeks to marry the flavours of the spirit and botanicals together as it has to rest so we’re trying to pencil in another date to get going with batch two!”

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