Arbikie Distillery

Arbikie Distillery

Name of organisation/business: 
Arbikie Distillery
£263,233 from Food Processing, Marketing and Cooperation scheme
Scottish Rural Development Programme priority: 
Enhancing the rural economy
Contact details: 
Email: Tel: 01241 830770



Drumbertnot Farm

What are the aims of your project?

Rising costs and falling revenues pushed us to consider an alternative use for the crops we grow. The project’s aim was to enable the creation of a family owned distillery producing high end white and brown spirits using crops grown on the farm. Although we had the land and  buildings (former dairy sheds) suitable for conversion, the grant enabled the purchase of the stills and equipment to fit out the distillery. Our aim was, and is, the creation of a premium drinks brand to sell to the UK and international market. The distillery would create jobs and a sustainable business.

How did your project achieve these aims?

A huge amount of work went into the planning, procurement and construction of the distillery.

Research was done in conjunction with Heriot Watt University on the feasibility of using potatoes to create the base spirit for our gin & vodka.

Finance was sought and acquired to enable the project to begin.

The buildings at Drumbertnot were converted and the distilling equipment sourced and installed.

A Master Distiller and an assistant distiller were employed. Distilling began and our first spirit was bottled in November 2015.

Who's involved?

The project was led by John Stirling. He was responsible for financial matters and all general management of the project.

How was the project funded?

The project was funded by a loan from RBS and the grant received from the Food Processing, Marketing and Cooperation (FPMC)scheme of the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP).

Where did you go for help and advice?

Help and advice was obtained from:

  • Heriot Watt University
  • Experts in the drinks industry
  • Still manufacturer - Carl GmbH
  • Marketing and brand design consultants

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

We have managed to create a successful brand and our products have won international drinks awards:

  • The vodka won the Best Vodka at the Paris Innovation Awards, a gold medal in the China Wine & Spirits Awards (CWSA) and was listed by GQ as one of the top ten in the world

  • Kirsty’s Gin won a double gold at the CWSA and a Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits competition

And the biggest challenge?

The challenges were many and varied. The initial build required a lot of planning in terms of fitting all the constituent parts together - finding the necessary skilled trades to work to our desired timeline and budget was extremely challenging as a distillery build requires everything from steam pipe installers and electricians through to builders, welders and plumbers.  We aimed to utilise as many local suppliers as possible and took time collecting quotes and negotiating on both timeline and costs.

Once operational, new challenges were faced in the scale up from small, lab scale trials to full production scale.

Any tips for those setting up a similar project?

The key to the success of this project was the people, both internally within the organisation and outwith.  A network of experts was formed who excelled in both the construction and installation of the building itself and in the production of high quality spirits.  Existing trades and suppliers were used but also new alliances were formed, all working to the common goal of converting the farm buildings to a world class distillery.

What's next for your project?

We aim to continue to develop and release high quality spirits produced from the produce grown on the farm.