The duo behind a fledgling Highland gin is gearing up for expansion to keep up with demand - just eight months after its launch.

Catriona Murch and Cara Edwards launched Bealach Gin in October after meeting at a parent and toddler group and discovering their shared love of the spirit.

With advice from Business Gateway, they set out to create a gin inspired by the rugged landscape of their surroundings and named it after the Scots Gaelic word for mountain pass, a nod to the banks of Loch Lochy, Lochaber, where they both live.

This vision resulted in the creation of Bealach Highland Gin, a “smooth spirit that boasts a distinctive and flavourful taste”, stemming from the use of sustainably foraged local botanicals such as brambles, bog myrtle, and pines.

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Now on its fifth batch, the gin is stocked by seven businesses within a 16-mile radius of the owners' base. The pair plan to sell to local retailers and beyond after successfully applying for an Alcohol Wholesalers Registration Scheme through HMRC.

The gin was recently awarded silver from the International Wine & Spirit Competition, with the judges describing the spirit as having “a nice depth of flavour, balanced heat, and great complexity”.

Ms Murch, a geography teacher, said: “After careful planning and market research, we knew that we had a solid idea to launch our own craft gin. We approached Business Gateway Highland and met with our advisor who was instantly encouraging. We have very much benefited from the financial support of the start-up grant as there are so many costs to cover at the beginning.”

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Ms Edwards brings significant experience of the whisky industry to the role, having previously worked at the Kilchoman Distillery on Islay. The Bealach gin is based on their own recipe: they forage the botanicals and send them, along with bottle and stoppers, to Lost Loch Spirits, which distils the gin and sends it back to Ms Murch and Ms Edwards. They then hand label the bottles and fulfil the orders from their base in Letterfinlay.

Current stockists include the Invergarry Hotel, Invergarry; Whispering Pines Lodge, Letterfinlay; Glen Spean Brewing Co, Spean Bridge; Old Station Bar & Restaurant, Spean Bridge; The Bridge Cafe, Spean Bridge; Old Pines Hotel & Restaurant, Spean Bridge; Highland Soap Co Larder, Fort William; Tyndrum Whisky, Green Welly; and Billington's, Lenzie.

Planning permission has been secured by the pair to distil themselves at Letterfinlay in the long term, which they plan to do once the business has grown and the funding is in place.

Dianne Swanepoel, Business Gateway Highland start-up adviser, said: “Catriona and Cara have worked really hard over the last year to launch their craft gin, and I’m so pleased that they can now call it an award-winning product.

“I would encourage anyone in the local area thinking of starting a business or growing an existing business to make contact with Business Gateway as your first stop shop and make the most of the funding support available.”