EDEN Brewery has struck its first deal in the export market as it puts the finishing touches to a project which will triple the production capacity at its St Andrews site.
The craft brewer, set up by Paul Miller in 2012, is despatching a sizeable order containing six of its beers to China this week, after impressing delegates on a recent trade mission to Scotland. And it is poised to send its first exports to the US, following leads secured by Mr Miller on a recent trip to the States as part of Tartan Week.
The moves come as the company is on track to boost turnover by £1 million to £1.7m in its current financial year.
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Mr Miller revealed the Chinese order is being channelled through JW Filshill International, a new company working with Scottish Development International (SDI) to open a market for craft beer from Scotland in the world's second biggest economy.
It has been set up by Simon Hannah, managing director of Glasgow-based wholesaler JW Filshill, and former Diageo executive David Moore.
Eden's exports to China will arrive in time to appear at the Whisky Live Festival taking place in Shanghai and Beijing in August. Mr Miller, a former sales chief for Molson Coors in Scotland, said the Chinese delegation initially wanted more beer than Eden was currently able to deliver. He noted interest was especially strong it its wood-matured beers, chiefly its beer aged in barrels that previously held whisky from Islay and bourbon, as well as its "easy drinking" 19th Brew.
Mr Miller is also exploring a move for Eden into Taiwan, after holding talks with a local whisky distributor who is keen for the brewer to develop bespoke products for the market.
He said: "What they [JW Filshill International] are trying to do is promote the Scottish beer category [and] to leverage the really good premium image that Scottish alcoholic products have, driven by whisky, in the Far East.
"They've worked with SDI in these countries and created I think a really good market opportunity. For us it is the first order we will be exporting."
However it is not just in the Far East where Eden is looking to broaden its horizons.
Mr Miller took part in a recent trade mission to the US as part of Tartan Week, which has led to interest in Eden's beers in the "tri-state" region of America's north east, namely New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. He hopes the first beers will arrive in time for the Ryder Cup in September.
Eden's move into exports has been made possible by its £200,000 investment to expand the capacity of its brewery at Guardbridge, based on land owned by the University of St Andrews.
The extension, which has added two new fermentation vessels, has significantly increased Eden's brewing capacity. It also allows the brewer to keg beer for the first time, and to supply beer in containers of different sizes.
Eden, which is welcoming around 200 people a week to its brewery tour, hired two further staff last week. The assistant brewer and tour assistant will swell its team to 13 full-time staff.
Mr Miller said the brewer is also poised to hire a brewing apprentice, who will be supported to take industry qualifications over a three-year period.