Richard Dixon, who founded and sold the Fife-headquartered Vets Now chain of petcare clinics, and Claire Kinloch, chief executive of strategy consultancy firm Genoa Black, have joined forces to establish Harpalion Spirits.
The South Queensferry-based venture is now working on the launch of its first release which is made up of five aged rums and finished in Speyside in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks.
Harpalion aims to launch the rum to customers in both the on-trade and off-trade and through online channels in March, with more products to follow.
Dixon, who has a passion for rum and is backing the venture with his own funds, had approached Genoa Black last year to carry out a feasibility and strategy project by looking at the spirit sector worldwide.
Kinloch, who is chief executive of the Harpalion, said that the project identified a “strong and unmet demand for a high quality ‘sipping’ rum”.
“We decided to establish our own company to create the premium sprits we understand consumers desire,” she said.
“Lockdown has of course been a challenge, but we have conducted extensive blind tasting over the past four months – two households at a time – and the feedback has been exceptionally positive,” Kinloch says.
Dixon, who worked as a vet before founding his own business, said: “The spirits sector is fascinating – it constantly needs to reflect the changing nature of consumer behaviour and is always innovating.
“Never more so than in the current climate where despite a real shift in consumer behaviour and the obvious current challenges in the sector, this brings real opportunities to think differently”.
Their first release comprises single source rums from the Caribbean, Guyana, Guatemala, Trinidad and Panama. After a domestic launch this Spring, the company plans to expand into international markets next year.
Dixon, who becomes chairman at Harpalion, founded Vets Now in 2001 to provide out-of-hours care services for veterinary practices across the UK. In 2019, he sold Vets Now to Europe’s leading veterinary care provider, IVC.