Scottish drinks brand targets staycationers with Borders 'centre for vermouth excellence'

Two brothers who launched a Scottish drinks brand just before the pandemic hit have outlined plans for a “centre for vermouth excellence” in the Borders.

The Valentian Vermouth centre will feature a tasting room and experimentation studio as the fledgling brand looks to grab pole position in the UK vermouth market.

Dominic and David Tait, co-founders of drinks maker Tait Bros, launched Valentian Vermouth in late 2019, earning plaudits from critics and consumers alike and positions on shelves in some of Scotland’s most stylish bars, restaurants and stockists in Edinburgh and Glasgow, including The Balmoral, The Gannet and Valhalla’s Goat.

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The firm acted quickly when the initial lockdown was announced a year ago, pivoting towards direct-to-consumer sales and a focus on independent sellers still able to operate under the tighter restrictions.

Dominic and David Tait, co-founders of drinks maker Tait Bros, launched award-winning Valentian Vermouth in late 2019 just before the pandemic hit. Picture: Kirsty Anderson Photography
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A crowdfunding campaign is now being rolled out to finance the creation of a brand home and centre for excellence.

Proposals include a licensed bar, tasting room and retail space – for on and off sales – to allow consumers to sample and buy products, as well as co-working space and a private meeting room.

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The experimentation studio will provide a venue for Tait Bros, bartenders and other drinks companies with facilities for product development.

The preferred location for the proposed tasting room and experimentation studio is Melrose, at the foot of the Eildon Hills, which feature on the Valentian Vermouth bottle.

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Dominic Tait, co-founder of Tait Bros, said: “Consumers are always looking for the next thing in drinks – they want new flavour experiences with a focus on quality ingredients and provenance, lower-abv, cocktail credentials – few products have all these elements, and Valentian Vermouth is one of them.

“The vermouth and aperitif market is growing in the UK and globally, but Scotland is being left behind, and we believe that by creating a centre of excellence for vermouth in the Scottish Borders, we will place Valentian Vermouth at the forefront of the sector, building provenance and a reputation for craft with consumers and the UK drinks industry.”

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He added: “The past year was tough, but it enabled us to underpin the work we had done to market the brand through traditional models, where bars and bartenders serve as your advocates, by pivoting towards independent outlets who filled that role. Our direct to consumer sales were also strong, and it puts us in a brilliant position to launch the next phase of pour ambition.”

The firm is also hoping to attract staycationers as Scotland’s hospitality sector gradually reopens from its enforced lockdown.

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Tait said he was aiming to position Valentian Vermouth as “the drink of the Scottish summer”.

He added: “When people try Valentian Vermouth, they buy it, the key has always been to get it onto their lips.

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“People in Scotland and across the UK are desperate to get out and enjoy hospitality venues this summer, and we want them to do so with a Valentian Vermouth in their hand. They may not be able to go abroad, but we can bring a taste of abroad to them.”

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