Couple raise a glass for Colonsay success

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A couple who produce award-winning gin from their home in Colonsay have just secured their first national supermarket order – with bottles due to appear on shelves this summer.

Fin and Eileen Geekie set up Wild Thyme Spirits Ltd in 2016 and since then have sold more than 5,000 bottles, including sending their first export shipment to Canada.

Support from Business Gateway Argyll and Bute has helped them grow the business. The couple have recently benefited from specialist marketing advice via the Business Gateway Local Growth Accelerator Programme, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014-20 Structural Funds Programme.

Fin said: ‘We’re proud of our Colonsay Gin and the response we’ve had from the public. When we sold our 5,000th bottle it was a special moment and since then we’ve expanded more. We exported our first shipment to Canada including an exclusive special commemorative bottling for Canada’s finest military regiment, the Lord Strathcona’s Horse. We’re also in negotiation with importers in Italy and Spain so it is an exciting time for us. We have secured a national supermarket order although we can’t say which one until nearer the time.

‘Since setting up we’ve had support from Business Gateway, which has been with us every step of the way. The specialist advice we received in marketing and PR has really given us a boost and put us in a great position to go forward.’

The success of Colonsay Gin has led Fin and Eileen to offer a gin lover’s retreat experience, making use of the on-site accommodation built during the renovations. The weekend retreat offers visitors and gin enthusiasts a chance to choose from over 200 gins and eat fantastic food whilst taking in the remote and beautiful scenery of the island. For 2018, bookings for the retreat are already at 70 per cent as gin lovers seek a unique experience.

Fin added: ‘Gin is loved by many people and we wanted to make use of our wonderful surroundings to offer something different. We also wanted to help the island’s economy and tourism by bringing people to the island who have not been before.

‘We are very aware of how important business is to the future sustainability of the island and we’re keen to start employing people as soon as we can. We are excited about the rest of 2018 and look forward to the Scottish Rural Awards, where we are finalists in the Best Artisan Spirit and Best Start-up Business categories.’

Barbara Halliday, Business Adviser for Business Gateway Argyll and Bute said: ‘Wild Thyme Spirits has been steadily growing since bottling its first gin in March 2016 and by accessing our range of services has cemented its position as an exciting and successful drink producer in Scotland. By taking advantage of our specialist help, Fin and Eileen have benefited from tailored PR advice aimed at helping them grow their business.’

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To find out more about how Business Gateway can help you set up and develop your own business call 01546 808363 or visit