Su Black, head distiller at Beinn an Tuirc Distillers talks to SLTN
Q: Where do you work?
A: Beinn an Tuirc Distillery is part of a family-owned estate on the east coast of Kintyre. The stunning location was a real draw to me when I took on the role. The distillery is a former piggery building and the offices and visitor centre are in the former estate farmhouse. My 15 minute walk to work takes me past amazing sea views across to Arran then meanders through the gorgeous woodland estate. I have been known to stop for a swim in the sea if it looks inviting, which it usually does!
Q: How long have you worked there?
A: I started with Beinn an Tuirc Distillers in January 2017 and helped get the distillery buildings commissioned before scaling up the Kintyre Gin recipe on the big still, ready for the first batch release in July of that year.
Q: Describe the production process.
A: Our product is truly handcrafted as every aspect of production is done by hand. Sustainability is at the heart of our business: the Mueller copper pot still and distillery building are powered by hydroelectricity from the nearby estate hydro electric scheme. Our aim for our signature Kintyre Gin was to create a true expression of the region so we use Sheep Sorrel and Icelandic Moss, which both grow in abundance in the area.
Q: What’s a typical working day like?
A: My morning often starts with a swim in the sea which is an amazing way to begin the working day! At the distillery, the job is varied and unpredictable. From distilling gin to bottling and labelling, from gin tours to cocktail development in the horsebox bar, it is never boring! We have a great team spirit which thrives on a culture of humour but getting the job done to the highest standard is always a priority.
Q: Please provide brief tasting notes for your products.
A: Kintyre Gin is delicious neat but works well over ice with a premium tonic such as Fever-Tree Mediterranean and a garnish of fresh basil. Our Kintyre Pink is delicious with Walter Gregor’s Raspberry tonic, garnished with mint. Our unique Oak Aged Botanical Gin works well with ginger ale and a slice of fresh ginger.
Q: What would you say sets your products apart?
A: The Beinn an Tuirc brand is synonymous with the Kintyre landscape, an ethos of sustainability, a strong sense of community and diversifying the estate for future generations.
Q: What one fact should bartenders know about your products?
A: Kintyre Gin was recently voted second favourite by consumers in a survey of Scottish gins by the Scottish Gin Society.
Q: What’s your favourite part of the job?
A: I love the satisfaction of seeing premium products leave the distillery in our remote corner of Scotland to end up on shelves all around the country and also the rest of the world! I also love that I have the freedom to work on new products and experiment with new flavour profiles.
Q: What’s your favourite way to drink your products?
A: My favourite way to drink Kintyre Gin is at the nearby beach with friends, dogs, a BBQ and a view to die for!
Q: What’s your career highlight so far?
A: Seeing my own recipes, developed from scratch, becoming a successful commercial product.
Q: Who do you admire in the industry and why?
A: The Scottish gin industry as a whole for being so friendly and supportive.
Q: How do you relax outside of work?
A: Wild swimming or a round of golf at Carradale.
Q: If you could invite anyone for a drink who would you ask, where would you go and what would you drink?
A: Billy Connolly, somewhere in the amazing Scottish countryside with a bottle of Kintyre Oak Aged gin.