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Business Gateway ensures gin-credible start for distillery  

Posted: 2nd December 2021

A gin distillery has increased sales by working with Business Gateway, and is now getting ready to scale up production at larger premises.

Isle of Bute Gin Distillery is a small batch gin distillery that specialises in using local botanicals, and even oyster shells, to flavour gins. Opened in 2020 on the Isle of Bute, the business has experienced high levels of customer demand with the return of tourists and day-trippers this summer and is now preparing to move to a larger space at ButeYard. This will allow the team to scale up production and provide an expanded offering to customers who will be able to enjoy gin tastings and cocktail masterclasses, along with the return of craft brewery Bute Brew Co.

Managed by husband-and-wife team, Rhona and Jack Wheatley, the distillery has worked with Business Gateway since 2019, when the team looked for support opening the distillery in Rothesay. The service provided valuable introductions for the Isle of Bute Gin team once they moved, and signposted funding opportunities to ensure a strong start.

By working with Business Gateway, the distillery has been able to access funding through the Business Gateway Local Growth Accelerator Programme. The Business Gateway Local Growth Accelerator Programme is funded by Argyll and Bute Council and the European Regional Development Fund 2014-20 Structural Funds Programme.

Access to the programme has helped them take on additional staff, increase their brand awareness in Scotland and distribute to local hotels, bars, restaurants and attractions. It will also allow the team to expand their services for customers, providing them with a pick-up service for customers.

This support allowed the distillery to steadily increase production and grow sales over the past 18 months. The team has also been able to take on an additional two members of staff due to levels of demand.

Rhona said, “Business Gateway helped us get our foot in the door in 2020 as we set about relocating the business back to Bute, during the initial lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They provided helpful introductions to the wider network, and our adviser always made sure we were aware of any news or potential opportunities that might benefit us.”

“The growth we’ve experienced over the last year has been supported by the Business Gateway service. The funding helped us grow our team, and we’re excited to take the next step as we move into larger purpose-built premises.”

Additionally, Rhona and Jack’s team will also start brewing beer under the brand ‘Bute Brew Co’, a mothballed business that the team purchased in 2021, which will be operational by the time the business relocates to ButeYard in summer 2022.

Rhona said, “There is a significant opportunity for Argyll and Bute to expand the craft food and drink market in the area, maximising on interest from locals and tourists. Projects such as ButeYard, helped along by support packages from organisations including Business Gateway and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, bring jobs back to the area and will help grow the industry in the future.”

Jen Smith, Business Gateway, said, “Starting a business in a new area is particularly challenging, which is where Business Gateway, and our knowledge of local networks and opportunities can support owners as they set off on this journey.

“In this case, Rhona and Jack have been able to build a strong base for their business, and this is reflected in the growth they have experienced over the last year. Now, as they get ready to scale up, I am confident they will only go from strength to strength, bringing jobs and driving tourism to the area.”

For more information about how Business Gateway can help you start your business, visit

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