The Gin Maker: Ruaridh Jackson

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Introducing The Garden Shed Drinks Company. A unique, organic, gin business, set-up by former Harlequins, Wasps, and current Glasgow Warriors and Scotland fly-half, Ruaridh Jackson. The 30-year-old has joined forces with former Warriors and Scotland prop Ryan Grant, and their wives Kirstin and Maxine, to make their dream of making organic, fresh and delicious gin a reality.

 

Where did the idea to launch The Garden Shed Drinks Company come from?

Fresh from moving back to play for the Glasgow Warriors at the start of last season, my wife and I crashed for a few nights at my good mate Ryan Grant’s house. Ryan, who played for Scotland and Glasgow, had recently been to a local distillery and was fascinated about the process of making gin. One night over a few drinks we started chatting about the idea of creating our own gin brand. At first, we were joking around but as we got chatting we started to like the idea more and more. I have always had a keen interest in the drinks manufacturing industry and had explored a range of opportunities while playing for Harlequins in London, thanks largely to Ben McGregor at the RPA. With the idea now placed in our minds, and with my wife, Kirstin, and Ryan’s wife, Maxine, on board, we ordered our first distilling book and the following week we were in the garden trying to make gin. It was tricky at first but over time we learnt more and more, and eventually The Garden Shed Drinks Company was born.

 

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What makes your gin different to other brands available?

Our aim is to be as environmentally focused as possible. We use as many local ingredients as we can. We have been inspired by the botanicals found on our doorstep, from the wild blackberries at the bottom of the neighbour’s garden, to dandelion roots and lavender. Not only have we created a clean, fresh, flavoursome gin, we also give back to nature by supporting two Scottish charities, The Bumblebee Conversation Trust and Trees4Scotland. For every six pack of gin that we sell, Trees4Scotland plant a tree, which is just incredible and makes it all worthwhile.

 

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Can you explain the response you have received so far?

We launched our very first gin during Christmas last year. We then sold our first selection of bottles to a local store in Glasgow and since then the business has taken off. The response has been amazing, and the support of the rugby community has been very special. We have also had the opportunity to showcase our brand at a range of gin tasting festivals, with the aim of growing our stock and supplying as many shops as we can. Today, you can find our gin in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and now London.

What is the aim of the business for the future?

The four of us want to continue experimenting, developing and building a strong and unique range of gin. We want to build a portfolio of recipes using different ingredients from other spirits, with the overall aim of one day exporting our brand around the world. If in the future, we can all be working full-time on the business, then that would be an excellent outcome.

 

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How proud are you of what you have produced so far?

It really is mind-blowing looking at what we have achieved already. Together we have worked so hard to make this crazy dream a reality. Not one of us had any understanding of how to make gin, or even how to launch a drinks brand from scratch. Over time we have learnt so much throughout the process and it’s awesome to reflect and get excited about we can continue to achieve. The best moment will always be watching our product being enjoyed by our customers and then hearing their positive feedback. The whole process has been such a laugh and we have had an enormous amount of fun along the way, developing the recipes, attempting different flavours with random ingredients and trying to make something which we can all enjoy.

Is there one recipe that you take the most pride in?

Our first gin will always be our baby and the one we are most proud of. We knew we liked the taste and flavour, but we were nervous about what the public would think. The reaction completely surprised us, and it was incredible to hear the positive response. Earlier this year we were totally blown away when our gin won a silver medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It was completely unexpected and the four of us were in total shock. Looking back, it was the reward for all the hard work and dedication we have given to the business and something we can all be very proud of.

For more information on The Garden Shed Drinks Company visit: www.thegardensheddrinksco.com or follow them on Twitter: @TheGSD_Co or Instagram: @thegardensheddrinksco