The Isle of Barra Distillers was established as recently as 2016, but it’s been a dream of wife and husband team Katie and Michael Morrison for much longer than that, and this week marks one year since the Barra gin went on sale.
Michael and Katie had a number of aims when setting up the company: to create something that not only they could be proud of, but the whole of the Isle of Barra can be proud of. To try and give something back to the Island, such as employment opportunities and to build a legacy that can be continued for generations to come.
Michael described the early days: “In the early months we were overwhelmed with the support shown by the public in the new venture.
“On opening night of sales, our website crashed due to demand.
“In the lead up to Christmas, a real highlight of the year happened, when the Barra gin was a headline sponsor at London Fashion week for world famous designer John Smedley.”
Now growing the brand is key to all involved in the company.
They have decided not to go down the conventional route of using a UK based distributor.
Instead the firm has opted to do this themselves - a brave and bold move but one that is working well.
Michael explained their success in this area: “To date you will find the Barra Gin stocked in over 200 restaurants, hotels and bars across the UK. Some venues include such places like Tom Kitchines Mitchillin started restaurant The Kitchin along with sister restaurants The Scran & Scallie and The Castle Terrace all found in Scotland’s capital Edinburgh.
“Other venues such as Café Gandolfi, the award-winning Carters of Mosley and The Ferry Inn to name but just a few.
“It means a great deal to all involved to be able to share the story of the Barra gin, the Isle of Barra distillers and of course the Island itself to so many folks and to do this by sharing a dram - well what other way would you want to do it! “
More highlights for the company came in 2018.
In mid-March the firm agreed a distribution deal for exporting the spirit into Denmark, the first country out with the UK to have the Barra gin available to buy.
This was a special moment for the business owners and everyone involved in the firm, but then just a coupleof weeks ago Isle of Barra Distillers singed their second distribution deal, this time with an importer in Germany.
This deal will see Barra gin being imported and distributed into Germany for the next 12 months.
This latest news further cements a fantastic year for the Island company, as some brands wait years for similar success.
Michael added: “Where do you begin? It’s been incredible and a year that has far surpassed our hopes.
“We set out to create something a bit different and wanted to grow at a pace that we could adjust to as time went by, but from day one it has been unbelievable and we are very excited for the future.
“Creating employment was one of our key goals and we have done that by adding three new opportunities into, what can only be described as a fragile Island economy, and as we grow so will the opportunities for further employment.
“My personal highlight is of course exporting our Island spirt and story to our friends in Denmark and Germany, to do this in year one really is fantastic.
“Already we are working hard on introducing the story of the Barra gin to places much further away than our remote home here on the Isle of Barra and we are confident that by the end of 2019 you will see the Barra gin available in 5 or 6 new countries.
“We are just grateful to the great team we have here at the Isle of Barra Distillers and the amazing support we have been shown by the public in what we are trying to achieve - we can’t thank you all enough!”