Debbie is one of the Co-owner/Directors and works full-time in the business. Based in the Highlands of Scotland and Shetland she can often be seen at events throughout Scotland. She looks after the marketing and promotional activity, background administration and finance, and works with the other Directors on future strategy. As a relative new-comer to the drinks industry, she loves being part of the Scottish Craft Drinks Industry growth.
How did you get involved in the drinks industry?
We had purchased the Saxa Vord site (former RAF Saxa Vord) well over 10 years ago and had focussed on developing the tourism side of things, with the self-catering houses, Sergeant’s Mess hostel and a seasonal restaurant, but we wanted to create some permanent, year-round jobs on site. The former Supplies Depot is a very large building, we had no other use for it and so we decided to set up Shetland’s first and only distillery, which is also the UK’s most northerly.
What do you enjoy most about working for Shetland Distillery?
Working with a small and talented team to build a business in one of the most remote and fragile places in the UK, to develop world class spirits that are now being sent all over the world. And nothing beats the excitement of seeing our new products in shops!
Where is your favourite place in Shetland to enjoy a gin?
The Saxa Vord restaurant, knowing that it’s only a short distance from where the gin is produced, and that the local botanicals are sourced – and that if we run out, it’s only a short distance to re-stock!!
What it is your signature cocktail?
For me it has to be our Original Perfect Serve, in these times of wild, wacky and quite often weird gins that are in the market, I love to come back to our Original Gin with locally grown apple mint, it is simply ‘just a really excellent gin’, and that’s probably why it won ‘The People’s Award – Gin and Tonic’ last year. Plenty of ice, a wedge of pink grapefruit and some mint leaves and a quality tonic and it is absolutely delightful.
What makes Shetland Reel special to you
Knowing what is behind the gin, the skill and expertise that comes into the product development, the time and effort from the distillery team who are committed to producing a consistent, high standard of spirit, bringing together tasting panels to ‘test out’ and feedback, and developing the promotional material which places our location at the heart of everything we do. The Shetland folk have embraced and support our business and are truly proud of what we are doing, and then of course there is always an excitement about what we are going to do next!