Follow the road on Scotland’s east coast up from Inverness and you will eventually reach the northernmost point of Great Britain: Dunnet Head. This is a landscape of extremes. A place where sunshine trails a hailstorm by minutes, where each of the seasons fits between a sunrise and a sunset, and where the blue and green hues of the Northern Lights glow on clear nights.
It might seem a rather remote place to start a new business, but that is what Martin and Claire Murray did when they founded Dunnet Bay Distillery in 2015. Martin, with a background in petrochemical engineering, and Claire, with a background in hospitality, had been looking to return to the county where they grew up for over a decade. Jobs were thin on the ground, so they created their own. Martin put his distilling degree to use to create a gin called Rock Rose which showcased an array of local botanicals.
The distillery came into the world at the height of Britain’s craft gin revolution. The once-disreputable spirit known to the Victorians as “Mother’s Ruin” was being transformed into something altogether more upmarket and desirable: Distillery openings in 2015 increased by 50% on the year before, quality tonic maker Fever Tree floated on the stock exchange in a move which valued the company at hundreds of millions of pounds, and British gin sales hit a record £400 million.
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