Midlothian couple behind luxury glamping pod company roll out whisky barrel gift business

Two Midlothian entrepreneurs have launched a third family business, offering a range of gifts made from whisky barrels, despite the challenges presented by lockdown.

Ross and Kristen Hunter, the founders of luxury glamping pod company Armadilla and Whisky Frames, featuring personalised photo frames made from old whisky barrels, have launched Barrel Smiths, with ongoing support from Business Gateway Midlothian. Picture: Neil Hanna Photography
Ross and Kristen Hunter, the founders of luxury glamping pod company Armadilla and Whisky Frames, featuring personalised photo frames made from old whisky barrels, have launched Barrel Smiths, with ongoing support from Business Gateway Midlothian. Picture: Neil Hanna Photography

Ross and Kristen Hunter – founders of luxury glamping pod company Armadilla and Whisky Frames, featuring personalised photo frames made from old whisky barrels – have launched Barrel Smiths, with ongoing support from Business Gateway Midlothian.

Their latest venture, Barrel Smiths, offers handcrafted and personalised gifts, including serving platters, wreaths and wine bottle holders, also made from whisky barrels.

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Each piece of oak stave is hand crafted by skilled woodworkers and tells a story of its history reflecting any scars, fissures and other rustic features of the original barrel.

The couple, who now employ more than 30 staff, started their first family business, Armadilla, with Ross’ father Archie ten years ago, designing and manufacturing hi-spec pods from their Midlothian base for clients around the world including Riverbeds near Glencoe and hotel chains throughout the Middle East and Australia.

In 2017, Ross, a design engineer, and wife Kristen, who graduated in interior architecture and has a masters in sculpture, launched their second business venture, Whisky Frames, which was named start-up entrepreneur of the year business at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards on its first anniversary.

Kristen said: “We have been incredibly fortunate to have received a wealth of support from Business Gateway Midlothian over the years from planning and development to research and marketing, which has really helped us to be able to grow our businesses and continue to create jobs for people in the local area.

“The new Business Regulatory Support Service (BRSS) has also been an invaluable resource for our latest venture, Barrel Smiths, as it has allowed us to tap into different areas of expertise from various departments including licensing, trading standards and environmental health to ensure we are going through the proper procedures when selling gifts with alcohol.”

Annie Watt, Business Gateway Midlothian lead, added: “The BRSS process provides clients access to regulatory support at the same time as business support, covering all areas of their business, in the present and looking forward to future plans.”

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