By Scott Wright

EDEN Mill, the Fife-based gin maker and brewer, has revealed plans to raise £8 million from investors to build its new distillery on the outskirts of St Andrews.

The proposals emerged as the drinks firm announced that it will open five seasonal pop-up stores across Scotland, staffed by 25 new employees, in the coming weeks. The first two to open, on St Andrews’ Market Street and Livingston Designer Outlet, open today, with pop-ups in Glasgow’s Princes Square and Silverburn and Aberdeen’s Union Square to follow in October and November.

Paul Miller, co-founder of the privately-owned Eden Mill, revealed an Investment Memorandum (IM) will be circulated to potential backers in early October.

The investment raised will be used to fund the construction of a carbon-neutral whisky distillery on land leased from the University of St Andrews, and to invest in whisky stocks. The IM is being handled by accountancy firm Johnston Carmichael.

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Work on the new distillery is slated to begin at the end of October and scheduled to be completed by the end of next year. The original plans were delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Miller, who co-founded Eden Mill with Tony Kelly in 2012, said: “There’s been quite a lot of different people expressing an interest, and the difficulty is you don’t want to dilute too much. But we have got a really nice model because we have got some whisky stock from the smaller distillery, a brand that is established and good experience in attracting visitor numbers. I think we have got a more robust case than many new distilleries, and ongoing we have a profitable gin business now. We have got a lot of things in our favour.”

The investment drive comes as Eden Mill gears up to take advantage of the festive season with the opening of a flurry of 

pop-up stores. This year it will run five pop-ups, one more than in 2019, and each will stock the brand’s festive range, including luxury Christmas hampers, Candy Cane Gin, and ready-to-drink Christmas cocktails, as well as premium gins and whiskies.

READ MORE: Eden Mill hikes profits and unveils ambition to build carbon-neutral distillery

Mr Miller said: “The virtual tastings that we have been running have been an unbelievable success. What is coming through really clearly is that people still like and want the idea of going out and touching and feeling and tasting our products, so the opportunity to get those out to an environment where people can feel comfortable is really important for us. Even if, ultimately, they buy in the shop or online it almost really is not that important. What is important is they have a really good experience.”He added: “Ultimately, shops have only got a finite amount of shelf space, and there are a lot of products out there. For us to have stores that have got all of those there... was really important. That was one of the prime motivators for it.”

Mr Miller said the decision by Eden Mill to “repatriate” its e-commerce operation from a third party had helped it meet to the challenges brought Covid-19. That coincided with the company moving operations to Glasgow just as the pandemic took hold, to allow preparatory work on the new distillery to begin.

By July, Eden Mill had furloughed 27 of its 60 staff in the wake of the crisis, with one person then leaving on the sales side. There are  “likely” to be exits in St Andrews as a result of the production move, though it is hoped any departures will be offset by the creation of new jobs in the west. Mr Miller said most of the people furloughed are now back working two or three days per week, with hopes they will all eventually return to full-time hours. “The overall picture is virtually no change thanks to the furlough scheme and some of the support we have had,” he said.

He supports those calling for the UK Government to follow the German model and extend the furlough scheme throughout the winter.