How a boutique Scottish gin distillery is tackling climate change and boosting green tourism in Kintyre

A boutique gin distillery in one of the most picturesque parts of Scotland is tackling climate change through a diverse range of green initiatives and attracting tourists to the local area into the bargain.

Beinn an Tuirc Distillers, near Campbeltown on the Kintyre peninsula, is part of Torrisdale Castle Estate.

It was set up by brothers Niall and Kenny Macalister Hall and Niall’s wife Emma in 2016, with the first batch of Kintyre Gin produced the following year.

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The team now has five hand-crafted gins in their repertoire, with a special apple brandy made from fruit grown in the castle grounds due out next year and the first ever Kintyre rum in the pipeline.

Torrisdale Castle Estate, on the Kintyre peninsula, has diversified to include a boutique distillery with a gin school, cafe and shop as well as self-catering accommodation

They also run a gin school, where visitors get to create their own special blend, a distillery shop and cafe as well as a holiday cottage letting business.

A raft of innovative measures have been installed across the estate to help reduce its environmental footprint, including renewable energy systems, home-grown food and a large-scale tree-planting scheme.

The efforts have been so successful that the business is now ‘climate positive’ – meaning it removes more greenhouse gases than it emits.

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Niall Macalister Hall, who lives in Torrisdale Castle and co-owns Beinn an Tuirc Distillers, says ecological concerns have always been at the very heart of the business

The estate has its own hydro-electric scheme to power the gin still, known as Big Don, while a biomass boiler provides energy for the castle and holiday propertie – including outdoor hot tubs.

Native trees are planted in the grounds for every case of gin sold, with thousands of new saplings already taking root.

Fruit and vegetables cultivated in the castle’s walled garden are used to create dishes for the distillery cafe.

And the Macalister Halls have even bigger plans for the estate going forward, aimed at attracting more ‘green’ tourists to the region.

As well as producing its award-winning Kintyre gin, Beinn an Tuirc is due to release a new apple brandy made from fruit grown in Torrisdale Castle's orchard and a hand-crafted rum is also in the pipeline

They are getting set to build three new eco-friendly glamping pods, are installing an electric vehicle charging point in the distillery car park and are launching safari-style tours of the grounds, focusing on local wildlife and the history of the 200-year-old castle and estate.

They have also ordered an electric delivery van for distributing their products around the local area.

Niall Macalister Hall, who lives in Torrisdale Castle with his wife Emma and two children, says necessity has been the mother of invention at the estate, which was first first forced to diversify operations in order to raise funds for a major overhaul of the castle roof.

But ecological concerns have always been at the very heart of the business.

“We’ve got an onsite hydro-electric scheme which powers the distillery,” he said.

“We only need about 10 per cent of the power generated, so the rest goes back to the grid to supply the local area.

“We also grow our own vegetables, which are used to create dishes for our new cafe.

“The idea is to be as self-sufficient as possible, with the aim of achieving a circular economy where nothing goes to waste.

“We are always looking to minimise our carbon footprint and don’t want to rely on offsetting emissions.

“Around 13,000 trees have already been planted in the grounds, with plenty more to follow.”

Beinn an Tuirc currently uses juniper imported from eastern Europe to make its gin, but there are plans to try growing some native bushes in the future.

Some of the botanicals responsible for the distinctive flavours of the hand-crafted spirits are foraged from around the local area, including a lichen known as Icelandic moss and sheep sorrel.

“We are really lucky here in Kintyre to have lots of wonderful local wildlife, including red squirrels, otters and golden eagles.

“The estate itself is also home to some special tree – we have the tallest ash in Argyll and the biggest cypress in the UK.

“I think everyone needs to be more eco-conscious these days and people are looking for greener visitor experiences.

“People want to do something different but they also want to protect the environment.”

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