A Dumfries and Galloway gin and rum distillery has enjoyed international success within its first year of operation by exporting its classical dry gin to Spain, and now looks set to continue to grow throughout 2019.
Dalton-based Oro Gin, co-founded by Ray Clynick, has certainly been a family affair. After a completing a degree in chemical biology, Ray realised that he’d fallen out of love with science and told his mum that he wanted to pursue a new path in gin distilling.
As he describes, “This was quite a big change in direction, so Mum sent me out of the house to play golf and think it over. By the time I returned, she had already found a masters course at the Heriot Watt International Centre for Brewing and Distilling in Edinburgh and five apartments that looked good.” With the course starting just two weeks later, Ray and his parents took the leap and started this new venture as a family.
Such quick action is characteristic of the Clynick family. Ray continues: “We always act very dynamically and we’re decisive in what we do. The idea of a gin and rum distillery became a common goal which ticked all of the boxes at the right time.”
This family-owned distillery now produces two different small batch gins, with a cask of rum nearly in its second year of aging. Oro, the more classical of the two gins, is distilled with 15 botanicals including pink pepper, lemongrass, cassia bark, cinnamon and a fantastic juniper. The second, the award-wining Oro V, is a smooth, delicate gin with a subtle juniper starting point balanced with fresh lavender, crisp citrus and gentle orris.
With Ray’s scientific background, his dad Raymond’s experience in finance and the fine palette of his mum Jacqueline, a trained chef, Oro Gin had an auspicious start. In addition to these solid foundations, Ray says that Business Gateway provided a crucial missing piece of the puzzle. “We found it was useful to be able to talk to someone outside the family circle about a business proposal. Business Gateway instantaneously helped out in that respect and all the extra services they provided were really staggering.”
In addition to start-up advice, Business Gateway assisted Oro Gin with website optimisation via the DigitalBoost programme, product design and numerous opportunities to apply for government and European-backed funding. Due to their early success, Oro Gin was swiftly escalated to Business Gateway’s pipeline system for predicted high growth businesses. This soon led to a meeting with Scottish Development International and Oro Gin’s first export opportunity.
As Ray describes, “It was a very nice surprise when Business Gateway introduced us to Scottish Development Interational. I thought you had to be quite a good size company to attract their attention, but they really helped us from the beginning. Without Business Gateway we wouldn’t have been able to make those contacts and speak to the right people.
We sent our first consignment to Spain in December 2018 and are now growing from the south-east in Alicante. We’ve also got meetings in Romania on the horizon and plan to send a consignment out there. It would be a really great start to 2019 to be exporting to two nations without our first 24 months of operation.”
Allan McNaught, Team Leader at Business Gateway Dumfries and Galloway said: “Throughout the past three years, we have assisted Oro Gin with local grants for websites, employability support, RSA grants for distilling equipment, workplace innovation and SDI export research. Oro Gin are an exceptional example of how Business Gateway support can help unlock growth and export opportunities. The business is a real family affair and we are thrilled that their hard work has been rewarded by European success.”
Like all UK businesses, Oro Gin has prepared for the potential impact of Brexit, as Ray explains: “Due to the complexity and bizarre nature of Brexit, we have considered why may happen. However, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what this could be. By virtue of starting the Spanish outpost of the business, we have safeguarded our supply to Spain, and, in the event of tariffs, we would be able to protect ourselves through our pricing strategy. Our Alicante office also means that, moving forward, we can use the Spanish company to supply the rest of Europe. If the worst-case scenario came about and trade became too problematic, we would use our knowledge to build a distillery in Europe, thus completely safeguarding our sales abroad.”
Ray has continued to seek advice from Business Gateway and other support networks throughout the Brexit process. “It’s a topic we monitor closely. Business Gateway send a lot of information and updates about potential Brexit-related issues. We also speak to our Chamber of Commerce and Scottish Development International to ensure we correctly complete any new paperwork going forward.”
Despite the uncertainty caused by Brexit, the future certainly seems bright for this Scottish dry gin, as Ray points out. “We have a lot of plans growth-wise in Europe and in Britain. Britain is quite a swamped market, but we are now seeing more people interested in classical style gins instead of fruit gins, which is great news for us. We are doing more with Business Gateway and Scottish Development International so we’re looking forward to working with them and growing to whatever potential we can.”