West Highland whisky-maker Nc’nean Distillery is celebrating export growth in North America.
It comes after a £500,000 funding package from Virgin Money.
Nc’nean, based near Drimnin on the Morvern peninsula, produces a range of whiskies.
It recently announced an exclusive partnership with US-based importer ImpEx Beverages. The deal has led to the distillery’s Nc’nean Organic Single Malt Whisky becoming available in a growing number of locations across the US and Canada.
This expression won a gold medal at the prestigious US Spirits Rating event.
And it also scooped double gold in the San Francisco Spirits Competition.
Stron green credentials
The B Corp-certified whisky-maker is well known for its focus on sustainability and experimentation with different strains of yeast.
It uses 100% organic Scottish barley in a building powered by renewable energy from a wood-chip biomass boiler.
The firm also recycles 99.97% of waste and bottles its whisky in 100% recycled glass.
Chief executive Annabel Thomas quit the London business world and her job as a strategy consultant for global management consultancy to set up Nc’nean in 2013.
She said the partnership with Virgin Money had been “critical to Nc’nean as we develop and grow the business”.
“This recent funding package has been fantastic to support our expansion to new markets,” she added.
Virgin Money’s loan is underwritten by a UK Government-backed General Export Facility (GEF) guarantee, covering 80% of the total sum.
The GEF scheme is run by the government’s export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF).
UKEF export finance manager Lara McGrath said: “We share Nc’nean’s passion and drive for bringing quality, sustainable Scottish produce to new markets, and we look forward to supporting more companies in the Scottish Food and Drink sector with our General Export Facility.
“This latest deal builds on £325 million in working capital which we unlocked for small businesses all over the UK with the General Export Facility last year.”
Craig Wilson, head of foreign exchange sales and trade finance at Virgin Money said: “Nc’nean Distillery has entrepreneurship and sustainability at its heart.
“This is embodied in the founder, Annabel, who we are delighted to have been able to support in the next step in her business growth journey.
“At Virgin Money we aim to ensure businesses have access to key specialists that can add value at the right time.
Nc’nean Distillery has entrepreneurship and sustainability at its heart.”
Craig Wilson, Virgin Money
“By bringing together the skills of our trade finance team, who are available to support internationally trading businesses, our strategic finance colleagues and UK Export Finance, we have delivered a winning package for the customer.”
Nc’nean and its 19-strong team use longer mashing times and slower fermentation, while experimenting with unusual yeasts, in their quest to develop new whisky flavours.
World record smashed
In 2020 the firm released a small, 1,320-bottle run which sold out in 36 hours.
A charity auction of the first 10 bottles broke the world record for the price paid, £50,000, for a first release from a new distillery.
Since then, the distillery has firmly established its award-winning core whisky, and introduced new seasonal releases and single cask bottlings.
As well as being crowned craft producer of the year at this year’s Icons of Whisky Scotland Awards, Nc’nean was recently recognised at No. 21 in a league table of the world’s most admired drams.