The WSTA recently hosted a reception in the heart of Edinburgh at the Scottish Parliament. Kindly sponsored by Christina McKelvie, MSP, the event was a unique experience to learn about Scotland’s gin industry. Representing the Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse constituency, Christina gives her thoughts on the industry’s contribution.
"The booming popularity of Gin has given the industry a real boost. The industry now has a renewed focus. In Scotland we now host a whole load of distilleries that contribute 70% of UK gin production. These distilleries stretch from the lowlands all the way up to the Highlands and Islands, providing much needed support in rural communities as well as creating jobs. What’s more, a recent WSTA report showed that women make up 43% of the UK’s wine and spirit industry, meaning women are challenging the stereotype of the alcohol sector being male-dominated.
Thanks to our whisky roots, Scotland has a long reputation of distilling, but gin represents a new opportunity to further develop our exporting power. I say new, but we’ve actually been producing gin in Scotland since the 1700s. The recent surge in popularity is just a testament to the quality and expertise we have here.
For example, gin brand ‘Eden Mill’ have no less than six distillers and brewers in their midst! A qualification that requires technical knowledge and supreme skill development. Heriot Watt is still one of the only UK Universities to offer a Masters in Brewing and Distilling. They have taught some of Scotland's finest distilling pioneers who have gone on to spread their expertise worldwide.
We have a rich food and drink culture in Scotland that we should be rightly proud of. These new, entrepreneurial companies are challenging themselves by opening into new markets - Scottish gin is now sold in 140 markets worldwide!
Recent political challenges have meant that it is imperative that the UK remains internationally focused and our trading barriers open. Many of Scotland’s gin brands are members of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association who have been working closely with the Scottish and Westminster governments.