We are five young-at-heart women who live in the small Scottish island town of Millport, on the Isle of Cumbrae, Scotland. We are distinctively positioned as being one of the few all-female distilling teams in Scotland (and the world!), and the only international women’s team, drawing representation from the UK, Canada and the USA.
In its heyday in the 1950’s and 60’s, Millport was a thriving holiday destination. Our signature gin, Nostalgin, celebrates the strong emotional connection and nostalgia Millport holds in so many people’s hearts, those who spent their childhood summers here and those who return with their children and grandchildren, ensuring the connection to the island continues to grow and thrive.
For new visitors and certainly a growing number of international visitors, we hope our gin will capture your heart and your imagination; we want it to be part of your Scottish island experience, to celebrate the rich Scottish history and culture, the coastal waters and our quaint harbour towns. We have chosen a bottle design that we hope will inspire you to repurpose the bottle long after the gin is gone; when you see the Nostalgin bottle in your home, we hope it will evoke warm memories of and nostalgia for your experience in Scotland.
We've chosen our main botanicals of lavender, blackberry (we call them brambles in Scotland) and orange to try to emulate that transformation visitors experience on the short ferry ride from Largs to Cumbrae. Distilled with the purest of Scottish waters - of course - we've topped off our recipe with a bit of Scottish island magic; a dash of noble Scottish thistle for health & improved energy and a smidgen of heather, considered to bring good luck and protection.
In designing our label, we wanted to create an emotional connection and capture an image that was instantly recognisable to the thousands who know and love Millport – the iconic harbour! We also knew that we wanted to engage a young Scottish artist to create an image that complemented the Nostalgin label, someone who has Millport in their heart; luckily for us we found Jack Sutton, a very talented young artist who specialises in ink drawings and has a family home on the island.
When we set out to design our Nostalgin label, we knew we wanted something that would scream 'Scotland' - what better way than with a tartan!
The Nostalgin tartan, which has now been officially registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans (probably the only gin in the world with its own tartan!), represents each of the colours of our gin botanicals.
We were thrilled to receive our certificate, signed by the Keeper of the Scottish Register of Tartans, officially recognizing Nostalgin tartan as an official Scottish tartan!
How brilliant is that!
What happens when five strangers meet on a beautiful Scottish island and become fast friends? Why, they decide to launch a gin distillery...of course! A love of this beautiful island, and gin, first brought the five of us together last summer. The idea for a distillery grew from a community discussion to generate ideas to save Millport’s historic Town Hall building, which was closed two years ago. Under the leadership of the Millport Town Hall group, the goal is to save the building with some renovations, alterations and some creative thinking, turning it into a vibrant and sustainable community asset.
Yup - that was us one year ago, in our comfort zone, waiting for someone else to open a gin distillery in Millport. Today we're in the "magic zone", learning tons, doing a lot of tastings (of course) and having a ball. In forming our distillery, we've realized that at this stage in our lives, we're not done; that this is the best time of our lives to so something challenging, creative...and fun! We hope we can inspire other women, young at heart like us, to be bold and to say YES! We realized a year ago that with our collective life and career experiences, we had what it takes to start up a distillery for the island! And we're doing it!
Opening a distillery, as with any new enterprise, is a huge undertaking. We have learned so much in the last year and received amazing support from the community of Millport and beyond. However, in our initial assessment we had not realised the significant cost of licences and inspections required to set up and be able to sell spirits. What this means for us in the short term is that the purchase of our still is on hold; we will distill our gin through another distillery until we can raise enough funds. This is where we need your help and support.
We need your support to purchase our still - the heart of our distillery - which will be named Maura, in honour of the 7th Century patron Saint of Cumbrae, whose statue welcomes visitors as they sail into the bay - another fabulous woman! Maura will be a 100-litre traditional alembic copper still - bold and beautiful! By having our own still in Millport, not only can we create our gin on the island, but we can offer other activities and quickly expand the business with tours, tastings, workshops and special events – activities that will bring visitors to Millport all year round, rain or shine (and in Scotland we know rain!), creating year-round employment for Millportonians.
Your support will also help us fund student internships. We’ve had wonderful news from the Universities of Edinburgh, Stirling and Strathclyde, who have offered us partial funding for seasonal internships; however, we need additional funds to be able to support student research over our first year, in particular. We have lots of work to do to expand our enterprise, to identify businesses that will sell our gin and to find new avenues and partners to bring visitors to the island.
With the help of talented business and tourism students, we hope to create new tourism partnerships, in particular. A fast growing cruise industry through the Port at Greenock, 14 miles away, makes a day excursion to Millport for an island visit, including gin tasting, very realistic. In addition, we plan to tie into North Ayrshire’s new Tourism initiative, the COIG (Gaelic for 5), which will promote tourism and travel along the Clyde coast, North Ayrshire and to the islands of Arran, Bute and Cumbrae.
For those who know this wee Scottish Isle of Cumbrae, you'll know it's Scotland's most accessible island, a quick 8-minute ferry ride from the mainland town of Largs. We often hear people remark that during that short ferry journey from Largs to Cumbrae, surrounded by the beauty of the islands and the sea, a transformation takes place and all troubles fade away to feelings of calmness and tranquility. And we want to bottle that experience!
Surrounded by an ever-changing sea and magnificent views of the surrounding islands, Millport embodies the quintessential Scottish island community, a place to escape everyday life and experience a bit of that ‘time stands still’ feeling. Our small island population is fortified by a deep sense of community spirit.
By contributing to our crowdfund, at any level, you are contributing to the future success of a business that can have a huge community impact. Royal Bank of Scotland Back Her Business will match your contribution.
Help us raise funds for our still and for students.
Join our adventure and be part of our story!
We have some great rewards - at all levels - that we are sure you will love. In fact, it may be hard to choose just one!
We are very grateful for your support, from all over the world. You are an important part of our story and we look forward to welcoming you to our island distillery. Make sure to visit our website at www.isleofcumbrae-distillers.com to join our mailing list and receive periodic updates on our journey.