SPENCERFIELD Spirit Company has signed an exclusive distribution deal for its Edinburgh Gin brand with distiller and bottler Ian MacLeod Distillers as it seeks to tap into the growing premium gin market of London and southern England.

Broxburn-based Ian MacLeod will also distribute Fife-based Spencerfield's other brands Sheep Dip and Pig's Nose Whisky.

Spencerfield founder Alex Nicol said: "While we enjoy strong distribution in important export markets, we need to grow our brands in the UK with a particular focus on the South and into London."

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There is a growing Scottish craft gin scene led by William Grant's Girvan-based Hendrick's brand, although others such as Darnley's View from Fife-based Wemyss and Bruichladdich's Botanist from Islay are also seeking to tap into apparent growing demand for gin from smaller producers.

Meanwhile, the huge Cameronbridge distillery in Fife produces spirit for drinks giant Diageo's huge Gordon's and Tanqueray brands.

"We are delighted to add Spencerfield products to the Ian MacLeod portfolio. These brands are complementary to our existing portfolio," said Neil Boyd, UK commercial director for Ian MacLeod, the company behind the Tamdhu and Glengoyne single malt whisky brands.

He added: "The premium gin market is buoyant and we see major opportunities for Edinburgh Gin throughout the UK. In addition, Sheep Dip and Pigs Nose whisky will provide a quirky alternative to our existing brands and play well with those looking for products with an additional point of difference."

Edinburgh Gin is made in small batches with the Scottish juniper berries, pine, heather and other botanicals, and has won a number of industry awards.

Mr Nicol added: "Since we acquired our founding brands Sheep's Dip and Pig's Nose in July 2005, export sales have doubled annually.

"The expertise, market knowledge and national sales presence that Ian Macleod Distillers brings will help deliver real growth for our brands."

Ian Macleod was set up in 1933 and was bought by the Russell family in 1963.

Leonard Russell joined the company in 1989 as business development manager and took over as managing director in 2000 when his father, Peter, became chairman.