Names: Bronwyn Jenkins-Deas, Jenine Ward, Juli Dempsey, Philippa Dalton and Lynda Gill.

Ages: We are a group of ‘mature’ women and the members of only a handful of female distilling teams in Scotland. We are an international team, representing the UK, Canada and the US.

What is your business called?

Isle of Cumbrae Distillers.

Where is it based?

Millport, on the Isle of Cumbrae.

What does it produce? What services does it offer?

We produce two gins: Our signature gin, Nostalgin, celebrates the strong emotional connection and nostalgia Millport holds in so many people’s hearts, especially those who spent their childhood summers here in the 50’s and 60’s. Our second gin, Croc Rock gin, celebrates Millport’s Crocodile Rock, one of the most recognised symbols of the island for over 100 years. Our main botanicals of cacao and ginger symbolise the love we all have for the Croc, while at the same time recognising the potential danger of the crocodile’s bite.

In addition to our two gins, we will offer tours and tastings starting this month. Our distillery tours will bring to life the fascinating history of gin, highlighting the important role women played in the history of gin, and showcase the colourful smuggling history of the Clyde and the history of Millport. Our future plans include a gin school in 2022.

The Herald: The five founders of Isle of Cumbrae Distillers on the island's Crocodile Rock - which one of their gins celebratesThe five founders of Isle of Cumbrae Distillers on the island's Crocodile Rock - which one of their gins celebrates

To whom does it sell?

We sell direct to consumers from our shop and through Scottish stockists.

What is its turnover?

We are in our first year and launched during the pandemic in September 2020. However, we exceeded our initial projections, trading approximately £100,000 in our first three months. We expect to achieve £250,000 turnover in our first full year of operation (2021) and to double that in 2022.

How many employees?

We owners run all aspects of the business from gin production, marketing and distribution. We are hiring two part-time staff for the summer season and one full time Events Manager, who we hope we will be able to offer a career position as we look to expanding activities and events at the distillery.

Why did you take the plunge?

After meeting as strangers in a Millport bar two years ago, we became fast friends and decided to open a gin distillery...of course! We initially came together to discuss ideas to raise money to help rebuild the island’s town hall, a project we remain committed to. We decided that Millport needed a gin distillery. Several gin and tonics later, we decided we would be the ones to open the gin distillery. So, not knowing much about gin, except that we liked to drink it, we established Isle of Cumbrae distillers. While collectively we have tons of life and work experience between us, in this regard we started from scratch; none of us knew anything about distilling...or licensing! In the end, it was the pandemic that became our opportunity to learn. And we have indeed learned...a lot. From distilling to licensing to branding our products, to social media campaigns, we have done everything on our own.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

Three of us were happily retired! One of us owned a company on the island and the fifth worked as an employee of the company.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

We provided the initial seed funding then in May last year ran a very successful crowdfund campaign and raised £22,000. After the crowdfund someone offered to buy our distilling equipment!

What was your biggest break?

We have had amazing ongoing support from Business Gateway. The training opportunities and advising have been astounding.

Isle of Bute Gin took us under their wing from the start and introduced us to all their suppliers, loaned us their distiller and, using the recipe we developed, produced our gin for us while we waited for several licenses we needed before we could distill in Millport.

The crowdfund exceeded our expectations and helped us build a very loyal group of supporters who have had a huge role in our success.

When we launched in September 2020, we sold out of our first batch of 300 bottles in 24 hours and the second batch 48 hours later. For the launch of Croc Rock gin, we sold out our first batch in 48 minutes!

What are your ambitions for the firm?

We’ve got a couple of new gins in the works for the next 12 months. We are partnering with Isle of Bute and Isle of Arran gins to offer a Clyde island gin pack, which will include our gins and a passport so that people can visit all three island distilleries. We’ll be expanding our activities toinclude not only regular workshops but also one-off events. We believe the distillery can serve as a catalyst for helping expand tourism for Millport.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

Our brand is multi-dimensional; it’s about Scotland and the islands; but most importantly, our brand is about us as women; mature women with a ‘yes I can attitude’, who decided one day that they were going to open a gin distillery...and did it! We represent the possibilities for older women; the possibility that you can start a business at any age with a good idea; the possibility that a woman can be successful in a male dominated industry; and the possibility that age is indeed just a number and success is about having a good attitude, a plan and passion. Life, at any age, is about being able to make choices, learn new things...and have fun, and that is what we have tried to capture in our brand.

How do you relax?

We drink gin…responsibly, of course!