Isle of Cumbrae Distillers is owned by 5 full and part-time “Millportonians”, distinctively positioned as being one of the few all-female distilling teams in Scotland, and the only international women’s team, drawing representation from the UK, Canada and the USA.
A love of the island…and gin, first brought us together, probably in one of Millport’s 5 pubs; certainly, the conversations blossomed during Thursday quiz nights at the Twa Dugs! Our conversations evolved from the general idea for an island distillery to raise funds to support the campaign to save Millport’s historic Town Hall building – a commitment that remains near and dear to us - to the realization that with our collective life experience, skills, enthusiasm, and “why the hell not” attitude, we could be the ones to start up a distillery for the island!
And so our story began in 2019. We launched our first gin in September 2020...in the middle of the pandemic! By the end of our first year, we had produced two international award-winning gins. Our signature gin, Nostalgin, won gold at the Gin Masters and bronze at IWSC as well as finalist standings at the Scottish Gin Awards and the Gin Guide; Croc Rock won silver at the Gin Masters and bronze at IWSC...a huge accomplishment for any distillery in its first year. To add to those accolades, our team was also a finalist for Best Newcomer for the Scottish Gin Awards!
As women business owners, we have also been recognized by our peers as winners of the Association of Scottish Businesswomen Most Enterprising Business 2022, Most Innovative
Start-up 2021 and by Ayrshire Businesswomen's Most Enterprising Business 2021.
In addition to being one of the only women's owned distilleries in Scotland, we proudly represent the possibilities for older women; the possibility that you can start a business at any age with a good idea; the possibility that women 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, passion and vision.
As Isle of Cumbrae Distillers prospers, an indicator of our success is our ability to create employment and training opportunities for our young people in Millport; employment is one of the biggest challenges that hinders Scottish island development and sustainability. In the buildout of the company, we have been recognized by the Scottish government as a Young Person’s Guarantee Employer; in addition, we received project funding from the Scottish Government under the Ayrshire Rural and Islands Ambition Fund (ARIA) to support a Brand Ambassador and Production Assistant position to help us expand and enhance our brand to bring more visitors to the island for our tours and tastings and to get our gin into more specialty and farm shops, restaurants and bars across Scotland. The funding supported Scottish Government goals of Community Wealth Building, Sustainable Tourism, Reducing Poverty, and Advancing Inclusion, Equality and Diversity. We have also engaged with business and tourism schools at Scottish colleges and universities, to provide projects and internships for students interested in future opportunities in the distilling business.
We are proudly committed to sustainability and to ensuring our products and packaging are chosen deliberately and responsibly. As members of the island’s beach clean team, we know first-hand the impact that plastic has on our beaches and wildlife and are committed to conducting our business in a socially responsible and ethical manner, protecting the environment and benefitting the community.