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Young craft distiller from Ardgay launches funding campaign to resurrect 'ancient' family recipe


By Niall Harkiss

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A third-generation craft distiller from Ardgay has launched a fundraising campaign in a bid to resurrect an "ancient" family recipe for botanical spirits.

Founder of Gledfield Distillery, Ciara Bow, at Kilmachalmack Burn.
Founder of Gledfield Distillery, Ciara Bow, at Kilmachalmack Burn.

Gledfield Distillery has been a labour of love for its young founder Ciara Bow (24) since its inception in February 2022.

The award-winning entrepreneur took top prize in the UHI Inverness Business Competition in June last year, after impressing the judges with her passion to bring craft distilling back to Sutherland.

In December 2022, she also won a Young Edge round 20 award, securing £10,000 in grant funding.

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She took a further step forward by securing a premises for her venture in a commercial unit in Tain earlier this year.

Now the young distiller plans to launch a trilogy of botanical spirits inspired by the "rebellious nature and creative distillation methods" of her great grandmother.

Ciara Bow aims to raise £25,000 to purchase equipment to produce botanical spirits using an 'ancient' family recipe.
Ciara Bow aims to raise £25,000 to purchase equipment to produce botanical spirits using an 'ancient' family recipe.

Marjorie McBeath, born in 1884, lived on a croft at Kilmachalmack, near Ardgay. A crofter, wife and mother of a large family, Marjorie was also an illicit distiller during the days when illegal distillation was common practice in the Highlands, following the introduction of excise tax.

Over a century later, Ms Bow plans to resurrect Marjorie's "ancient" recipe, using oats and other botanicals, such as flowers, fruits and plants.

Marjorie McBeath
Marjorie McBeath

She said: "Based on Marjorie’s recipe, the botanical spirits will be made using oats and other botanicals that Marjorie had access to, such as flowers, fruits, and plants, influenced by our beautiful Highland countryside which we are blessed to call our home.

"I am developing a trilogy of botanical spirits, each with a unique taste, and with your help, our first botanical spirit will launch in Summer 2024."

The young entrepreneur has launched a crowdfunding campaign via the Women's Business Centre to raise £25,000 to purchase equipment needed to produce the spirits.

If she achieves her funding goal, Gledfield Distillery will be able to purchase a 100 litre pot still, a bottle filling machine, a bottle capping machine and its first delivery of bottles, bottle closures and e-commerce packaging for the new range.

Rewards for backers include early access to a 70cl bottle, engraved glasses, a tour of the distillery, a luxury picnic and an overnight stay at Links House at Royal Dornoch.

Ms Bow has also pledged that every bottle of botanical spirit sold will generate £1 to support local charities within the community.

Ms Bow added: "I grew up in the Kyle of Sutherland and I am honoured to call this rural, idyllic place my home. It’s where Marjorie lived too, and where the idea for Gledfield Distillery was born.

"The Kyle of Sutherland is identified as a fragile and disadvantaged area, and my plans for Gledfield Distillery aim to be a force for good. Every bottle of botanical spirit sold will generate £1 to support local charities within the community.

"In addition to this, Gledfield Distillery will create much-needed employment opportunities, including apprenticeships for young people. I am especially keen to encourage more young women, like me, to work in the distilling industry.

"I am proud to be a third-generation female distiller, in an industry where women are under-represented. My long-term ambition is to find a permanent premises in the Kyle of Sutherland and to open a visitor centre with retail space, to bring more tourism to the local area which is in close proximity to the famous NC500 route."

Pledges can be made to the crowdfunding campaign at womensbusinesscentre.com/product/gledfield-distillery-help-us-to-bring-an-ancient-botanical-spirit-back-to-life.


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