A GIN business that was founded as a means of diversifying income on a country estate is preparing to ramp up its production after hitting its third year business targets within four months of launch.

Kintyre Gin, which is distilled on the Torrisdale Castle Estate in Argyll, launched on the market in the summer and demand has already outstripped founder Niall Macalister Hall’s initial projections.

Having come up with the idea for the distillery as a means of utilising the power produced by the estate’s hydro-electric scheme, Mr Macalister Hall said he had expected to sell in the region of 5,000 bottles in the first year.

“Our initial business plan was probably quite pessimistic in terms of 5,000 bottles per annum, creating one job, and moving through to 20,000 bottles and five jobs in year five,” he said.

“We are in year three of the business plan after four months. We’ve sold 4,000 bottles and in addition to my wife Emma and me – we’re directors and not yet taking salaries – we have one full-time distiller, one part-time assistant distiller and one almost full-time administrator.

“We’ve just ordered 10,000 more bottles and will probably do 10,000 to 15,000 bottles in year one.”

As a result of accelerating the business plan, Mr Macalister Hall said that Kintyre Gin would be bringing out a number of flavoured gins in time to hit the Christmas market and would also be looking at distributing its product further around Scotland and the rest of the UK while also “exploring exports”.

While the estate has looked to diversify its interests over the years by turning disused buildings into self-catering holiday accommodation, Mr Macalister Hall said the idea for the distillery did not crystallise until Torrisdale’s 99 kilowatt hydro-electric scheme was up and running two years ago.

“We had disused farm buildings which I had an eye on in terms of doing something with,” Mr Macalister Hall said.

“Twenty years ago I thought they would make a good brewery but we never did anything with them and that never got off the ground.

“When we were nearing the end of the hydro-electric scheme I thought what can we do to diversify the income stream further.

“Craft gin was just taking off so I got in touch with a contact at Heriot-Watt University who had just finished a masters in brewing and distilling and he helped us produce our recipe.”

Now that the distillery is taking off Mr Macalister Hall is planning to open a visitor centre and café on the estate, but said none of the diversification would have been possible if he had not been able to secure an initial £500,000 loan to fund the hydro scheme.

“The hydro scheme is the key catalyst to be able to pay off other debt or invest,” Mr Macalister Hall said.

“My income wasn’t necessarily huge in terms of being a chartered surveyor and the income the estate was generating but the amount it was worth was reasonable in terms of capital assets.

“I went to the bank I was with at the time and said I wanted to put in a hydro scheme but they said they wouldn’t support that.

“A lot of banks don’t look at the potential income of a hydro scheme - they look at current circumstances rather than future circumstances.”

However, as the hydro scheme has a 20-year government subsidy and also sells its electricity directly to the grid, Mr Macalister Hall was able to secure a loan from Weatherbys Bank.

Weatherbys associate director Duncan Gourlay said the bank made the loan because it looks at the overall capital value of a project when making decisions.