Dream move is the perfect tonic

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A couple who made their dream move to Colonsay are celebrating the production of the 3,000th bottle of their award-winning gin.

Fin and Eileen Geekie moved to the island after spending 30 years in Oxfordshire pursuing successful careers in property and HR respectively.

With support from Business Gateway Argyll and Bute, the couple decided to turn their interest in gin into a business, launching Wild Thyme Spirits Ltd last year.

The company’s first product, Colonsay Gin, has won two international awards and is available in more than 90 stockists across the UK with plans to export to Canada.

Fin said: ‘It was always our plan to move to a western island as we both wanted to return to Scotland eventually and had fond memories of the area from childhood holidays. We discovered Colonsay in 2007 but it took a while to buy and then renovate the house, so we didn’t properly make the move until 2016. We didn’t want to retire and needed something to keep us busy and as we had developed a keen interest in all things gin by then it was a natural move to turn it into a business.

‘We received support and expert help from the team at our local Business Gateway. Through the Business Gateway Local Growth Accelerator programme we were able to access a specialist in marketing as well as funding for trade fair attendance. All of which has given us a massive boost.’

The success of Colonsay Gin has led Fin and Eileen to offer Gin Lovers retreats, making use of the on-site accommodation built during the renovations. The weekend retreat offers visitors and gin enthusiasts a chance to choose from more than 200 gins and eat fantastic food while taking in the remote and beautiful scenery of the island.

Fin added: ‘We’re overwhelmed by the response we’ve had to Colonsay Gin. We are very proud of our product and it was fantastic to produce our 3,000th bottle last month. We have planning permission for our own distillery on the island which will see building works start in the spring of next year and we’re hoping to finalise our first exporting ambitions to Canada shortly.

‘We are also very aware of how important business is to the future sustainability of the island and we’re keen to start employing people as soon as we can.’

Barbara Halliday, business adviser at Business Gateway Argyll and Bute, said: ‘Wild Thyme Spirits is a wonderful addition to the rich food and drink industry in our region. Fin and Eileen accessed a range of our services both as a start-up and currently as a developing and growing business. Our support and expert help ensures a business is in the best position to be a success.’

For more information visit www.wildthymespirits.com

To find out more about how Business Gateway can help you set up and develop your own business call 01546 808363 or visit the bgateway.com/argyll-and-bute website.