Skye could be set to get its very first hand crafted gin distillery and it would be based virtually in the heart of Portree
Brothers Thomas and Alistair Wilson have come up with the ambitious plan which would see the creation of their very own micro distillery sited on land owned by the family at Hillfoot on Viewfield Road.
If planning permission is given the new gin production unit, to be run by the brothers’ Isle of Skye Distillers Ltd, would likely see building work on the new premises begin almost immediately with the first production taking place by the end of the year.
In their submission to Highland Council, the Wilsons say: “The craft gin market has grown dramatically in recent years within the UK particularly in the Highlands. Gin is the 4th most popular spirit in the UK with 70% being produced in Scotland. Edinburgh drinks more gin per head of population than any other UK city.
“The key difference between commercial brands and craft gin producers being that craft gin uses individual, unique recipes while commercial brands use a mix of spirit distillations. Craft production of alcoholic drinks has shown a strong growth in recent years, a trend that appears to be sustaining.
“It should be noted that while “standard” brand sales have remained level in recent years, premium priced craft brand sales have grown. The key characteristic being small volume production with a clearly identifiable provenance. There is a positive “cross over” in the demography of the UK population that drinks gin indicating that 54% of the drinking public (rising to 60% in the over 55s) think that buying craft drinks is a good way to support local businesses, at the same time the renaissance in gin consumption is being led by younger drinkers.
“Currently within Scotland there are 17 Craft Gin distilleries registered on “The Scotland Gin Trail” each with their own exclusive story. The majority of these distilleries are in the east of Scotland and the central belt with only 4 being located in the Highlands.”
To set the company apart from others the brothers are also investigating the possibility of producing a “gluten free” gin which no other distillery does at the present time.
Thomas Wilson has a back ground in the military and as a builder. He is currently employed by the Highland Council (Skye & Lochalsh) to coordinate the housing maintenance for the Council’s Skye & Lochalsh “estate”. Alistair meanwhile has a back ground in hospitality and hotel management. He is currently a manager working within the “Di Maggio’s Group”, managing “Barolo Grill” in Glasgow. A restaurant with an annual turnover in the region of £2 million and with a staff of 35.
If the scheme does go ahead the distillery’s first year production would aim to produce 10,000 bottles, which would grow to 25,000 by year three.