A carrageen seaweed pudding made by his mother led Michael Morrison to produce a gin that uses algae grown on the Isle of Barra’s wild shores as one of its 17 botanicals.
Now, just six months after launching Barra Atlantic Gin, the 26-year-old, from Eoligarry, has secured over 150 stockists throughout the UK, including 21 hotels, restaurants, and bars since January. Stockists include The Kitchin, Michelin starred restaurant in Edinburgh, the iconic Atlas Bar in Manchester, and the luxury cruise ship, The Hebridean Princess.
Having already opened a retail outlet in the island’s main village, Castlebay, last December and created three full-time jobs, Michael is on target to begin exporting his unique gin, which has featured in both British Vogue and GQ magazines, before the summer.
The furniture maker to trade, whose first business created bespoke wooden boxes for high-end whisky bottles, is now using advice from Business Gateway Outer Hebrides to identify potential funding that would allow him to open Barra’s first distillery.
He said: “When I launched Isle of Barra Distillers last year, I knew I wanted to bring production of our gin to the island as quickly as possible, as currently we ship our botanicals to London where the gin is distilled for us. But establishing production on the island takes a lot of investment.
“By taking the gin to market first, it not only allows us to build credibility and demand, it helps generate an income that can be re-invested into establishing a distillery where the product will be made from scratch.”
Growing up on Barra, Michael wanted to create a gin that would highlight the island’s connection to the sea. His mother’s homemade seaweed pudding gave him the idea to add carrageen which gives his gin a salty top note.
For more information on Barra Atlantic Gin at: www.isleofbarradistillers.com.
And find out how Business Gateway Outer Hebrides can help your business by visiting: www.bgateway.com/westernisles.