Levelling the field

New Scottish craft spirits collective aims to do things differently

Base Spirits Collective’s Glasgow launch took place at The Gate

A GROUP of Scottish bar and drinks industry veterans have joined forces to launch a new distribution company for independent, small-batch spirits.

Base Spirits Collective, described as a ‘co-operative distribution company’, is a joint venture between Ben Iravani, owner of Aberdeen bars Orchid and 99 Bar & Kitchen, Mike Aikman and Jason Scott, the operators behind Edinburgh bars Bramble, the Last Word and Lucky Liquor Co as well as drinks brands Seawolf, Cross Brew and Braemble, and Ian Melville, former brand development manager for Hi-Spirits in Scotland.

Melville, who is heading the company, said the aim is “to level the playing field for independent brands within the on-trade”.

Focusing initially on Scotland, the company will be working closely with cocktail bars in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee to grow its portfolio of spirits.

Launch events were held at Bramble in Edinburgh and The Gate in Glasgow, with upcoming events at Orchid in Aberdeen (August 12) and Abandon Ship in Dundee (August 19).

Base Spirits will also be serving Porter’s and Braemble cocktails at Edinburgh bar 56 North during the Edinburgh Festival.

“Initially we’re looking at a relationship-led approach to growth; working within our own networks to make sure we’re listening to the trade to see what it is they want and how they want to be supported,” said Melville.

“I think that’s very important – to listen to what’s happening rather than going out with [a set] model. You have to be quite flexible.

“For us, I think the idea is to make sure we’re working those relationships and make sure we’re gaining the growth we can within the networks we already have.

“And then we’ll be growing it via creative plans for each brand. Some cocktail competitions will definitely be happening in the future.

“It’s really listening to the trade to see what they require.”

Melville said the goal for the next year will be to establish “proof of concept” before recruiting more drinks producers to the collective.

The company will also be looking to recruit more staff from the trade.

“A lot of people tend to think when they’re bartending that they either become a bar owner or a brand ambassador,” said Melville.

“And I think there’s a lot of commercial experience gained when you’re behind a bar and a lot of parallels to be drawn between that and the sales element of our industry.”