A FIFE craft distillery and brewery has secured a “breakthrough” Chinese distribution deal, expected to be worth more than £1.5 million and coinciding with the four-day state visit to the UK by the country’s president Xi Jinping.
Eden Mill, which is based just outside St Andrews, has inked the deal for its gin range to be exported to China from this month, following in the footsteps of its craft beer business in China that has been developed over the past two years.
The firm, Scotland’s only combined brewery and distillery, said initial demand from the markets came from attendance at the Food and Drink expo in Hong Kong in May. It added that its launch plan engages leading mixologists in top bars in Shanghai and Hong Kong, “who value the variety and versatility of the range, along with the provenance of being from a Scottish distillery”.
Eden Mill is working with China-based distributor Montrose Fine Wines, which was chosen for its “ability to access and work with top end hotels and bars in these markets, and their capability to articulate the complex product attributes”.
Also paying a role was the firm’s ability to distribute widely across China, including tier two and three cities, which are additional to Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen and said to offer promising economic growth potential.
The deal covers Eden Mill’s five gins, which comprise oak, hop, love, original and golf, and it said this will create jobs at the distillery to grow its workforce beyond 30 currently.
Additionally the agreement will let it grow production onto a two-shift programme to meet demand for its craft gin, beer and single malt whisky, the firm said.
Managing director Paul Miller said: “This is a great opportunity for our business.
“The response to our gin range from the key trade buyers in China and Hong Kong has been fantastic.
“We have been working to get into the booming Chinese market for a while now and when we heard earlier this year that the state visit of Xi Jinping to the UK would be going ahead we redoubled our efforts. Nicola Sturgeon’s trade visit to China during the summer was also a great help to us.”
The politician said her July trip achieved “huge success,” with ten Scottish firms securing partnerships worth a total of £55m.
Jack Cummings, business development director for Montrose in China, said: “We believe gin is set to grow fast from a low base in this part of the world where similar craft alcohol trends as seen in the USA and other western markets are emerging fast.”