Dalton-based Oro Gin, co-founded by Ray Clynick, came about after he completed a degree in chemical biology, but realised that he had fallen out of love with science and told his mum he wanted to pursue gin distilling.
He said: “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.”
With the course starting just two weeks later, Clynick and his parents – dad Raymond with a background in finance and mum Jacqueline a trained chef – took the leap and started the new venture.
Ray Clynick said: “The idea of a gin and rum distillery became a common goal, which ticked all of the boxes at the right time.” The family-owned distillery now produces two different small batch gins, with a cask of rum nearly in its second year of aging. Oro, described as the more classical of the two gins, is distilled with 15 botanicals including pink pepper, lemongrass, cassia bark, cinnamon and juniper.
The second, Oro V, is a “smooth, delicate gin with a subtle juniper starting point balanced with fresh lavender, crisp citrus and gentle orris”.
The word “oro” means gold in Spanish and Italian while the business also runs distillery tours and tasting classes.
Clynick also credits Business Gateway with serving a key role. “We found it was useful to be able to talk to someone outside the family circle about a business proposal.”
In addition to start-up advice, Business Gateway helped Oro Gin with website optimisation via the DigitalBoost programme, product design and opportunities to apply for government and European-backed funding. Oro Gin was swiftly escalated to Business Gateway’s pipeline system for predicted high-growth businesses, leading to a meeting with Scottish Development International (SDI) and Oro Gin’s first export opportunity.
Clynick said: “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 within our first 24 months of operation.”
He also said the firm has prepared for a variety of Brexit scenarios, and is ambitious both in its domestic market and Europe. “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.”
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.
“The business is a real family affair and we are thrilled that their hard work has been rewarded by European success.”