A new initiative has been launched to support the rapidly increasing number of craft distillers across Scotland.
Bringing together new or emerging Scottish distilleries and Scottish academics, the Scottish Craft Distillers Association (SCDA) is hoping to emulate the success that the craft distilling industry has had over the past few years around the world, and promote the new products and processes that are being developed by its members.
The formation of the SCDA came about after members of Interface Food & Drink’s Craft Distillers Common Interest Group (CIG) felt they required a Body to represent their collective needs – and as a result Interface Food & Drink (IFD), in association with Strathearn Distilleries and the International Centre for Brewing & Distilling, formed the Association.
IFD’s Common Interest Groups (CIGs) were established to allow individuals, businesses or organisations – which have a shared purpose – to join resources to tackle a specific problem. Group members can be from any industry sector, but they might share a manufacturing process; an issue might be one common across many sectors; or there could be a market opportunity such as export, major multiples or premium markets relevant to a variety of producers. In addition to Craft Distillers, there are currently six other CIGs including Seaweed, Resource Efficiency, Venison and Rapeseed Oil.
The SCDA currently boasts more than 30 members, three of which are already producing spirits, and it is hoped that each month a different member of the group will start producing. This will lead to a wider and more varied range of craft spirits – from whisky, gin and vodka to rum, calvados and liqueurs – being produced north of the border. No other organisation in Scotland represents such a diverse group of craft distillers.
Helen Pratt, national coordinator at Interface Food & Drink commented:
“The aim of the Scottish Craft Distillers Association is to support the growth of craft distilling in Scotland by assisting the development of member companies – of which we currently have over thirty.
“Just as there has been a resurgence of interest in the craft brewing sector, there is now exponential growth in craft distilling. Teresa Shutter, IFD team member, was aware of several distillers independently pursuing projects funded by Interface Food & Drink at Heriot Watt University, and realised how much they could benefit by sharing knowledge, so she introduced them to each other and a Common Interest Group was born– which has subsequently led to the formation of the SCDA,” she said
“We’ve seen a changing tide in terms of consumer preference over the past 5 years or so, with more interest being paid to products that aren’t mass-produced,” said Tony Reeman-Clark, Chairman of SCDA and founding director of Strathearn Distillery.
“By establishing the SCDA, we’re not only ensuring that this new industry flourishes but we are also providing the means to lobby for, and support, niche Scottish businesses to further their products. As a Group we can lobby for the same duty levels as craft brewers which would treble the size of this new industry overnight. We can also look to central purchasing, marketing and other similar cost saving options.
“In terms of the value that’s out there for businesses, it is very significant. As a small distillery we cannot afford to go to the large spirit shows around the world. As a Group with an accreditation process and a central distribution facility with e-commerce support, suddenly the whole world is open to 30 new Scottish businesses. This could lead to export sales of over £30 million in 3 years which would otherwise not occur. This is the birth of a new industry for Scotland,” he concluded.