THE family behind a gin which is made using botanicals from the Isle of Mull has the Scottish on-trade squarely in its sights this year after what’s said to have been a “very successful” six months since the spirit was launched.
Whitetail gin is the brainchild of Jamie Munro and his family, which has owned Tiroran House Hotel on the shores of Loch Scridain in the south west of Mull since 2004.
And the 56-acre estate in which the hotel sits provided much of the inspiration for the spirit.
The 47% ABV London Dry gin, which is produced by master distiller Charles Maxwell at Thames Distillers in London, takes its name from the white-tailed eagles which nest beside Tiroran; while the estate itself yields many of the botanicals used in the gin, including sea kelp from the loch, heather from the hill behind the hotel, pine from the forest and winter savoury which grows on the estate, alongside sustainably-sourced juniper, coriander and lemon peel.
Jamie said using botanicals from the estate was at the top of the family’s agenda.
“We wanted to create a gin that was classic in style, but which had a narrative and imagery that we could build the brand around; the white-tailed eagle was the obvious choice,” he said.
“It was important that the botanicals were connected to our home; we’re passionate about Mull.
“And we’re very proud of where we’re distilled; we’re using Charles Maxwell who is an eighth generation distiller.
“It’s bottled at 47% and the idea was to have a strong and powerful gin like our namesake with a smooth finish; and a percentage that worked with the botanical composite.
“We’re open and transparent about the gin and I think people appreciate that and have bought into that.”
It was important that the botanicals were from our home; we’re passionate about Mull.
Since the sale of the first bottle last July, Whitetail has gained a strong foothold on the Isle of Mull, with Tobermory venues like Macgochans, the Tobermory Hotel, Cafe Fish and the Western Isles Hotel stocking the spirit. It’s available from wholesalers Gordon & MacPhail and Inverarity Morton; and Jamie said the focus is on continuing to spread the brand’s wings in bars.
“This year is about pushing more in the on-trade,” he said.
“We’ve created a bartender guide which includes the brand story, tasting notes and signature serve (see
right) and that has really helped.
“And it’s a great gin; it’s powerful but also incredibly smooth.”
Alongside continuing to grow Whitetail in the on-trade, the family plans to open a small distillery in a steading building behind the hotel, which also currently houses the licensed tearoom and shop.
A planning application was due to be lodged with Argyll & Bute Council as SLTN went to press and, if it gets the green light, Jamie said he hopes to have the distillery up and running in around 18 months.
“Whitetail will always be Whitetail; it will always be the jewel in the crown of what we’re doing,” he said.
“But when we have the still we can experiment with other things. We have the shop here so to create a small artisan distillery – there’s scope for people to come and see it and have an experience.
“I think the gin category will see more growth and I think innovation is key but there is a fine line. There’s such an eclectic range of gins available now I think it will come down to quality and brand story.”
Mix with Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic
Garnish with slice of pink grapefruit
Finish with a sprig of rosemary
Serve with large amount of ice