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Isle of Barra Distillers sign Waitrose & Partners deal for 120 stores

The Isle of Barra Distillers have landed their first deal with Waitrose & Partners which will see their award-winning gin hit the shelves of 120 stores across the UK.

Barra Atlantic Gin is said to be the first spirit distilled from the Outer Hebrides to land on the supermarket brand’s shelves in a six-figure sum deal.

Initially launching into 120 stores, the family-run distillery, which launched in 2017, may see the deal widen to other stores depending on consumer feedback and demand.

The new bottle design. Image: Isle of Barra Distillers

Michael Morrison co-founder and managing director of the firm says this partnership is huge for the company with it creating one office-based and one production-based role.

The deal came to fruition following the gin firm reaching out to Waitrose & Partners.

He said: “To say we are delighted is an understatement. This is a huge moment for our team.

“It has been a goal of ours from day one to have our story available to as many people as possible and now, with the launch of our Barra Atlantic Gin into Waitrose & Partners stores across the UK, this means that more people will learn about our family distillery which is really special.

Michael is delighted about the Waitrose & Partners deal. Image: Isle of Barra Distillers

“This move also not only creates more roles within our distillery team but it also safeguards our current roles and that is key to our fragile islands economy.”

With help from Highlands & Islands Enterprise, the firm has also invested in a new £140K state-of-the-art bottling line which will quadruple production capacity to 1,500 bottles per hour.

New bottle does the trick

The new listing follows The Isle of Barra Distillers releasing their new custom bottle in November 2022.

By creating their own custom-designed bottle, the firm has moved away from using one made from 100% flint glass to one made with 78% recycled glass. This in turn means that each bottle varies slightly and give “character” to the offering, says Michael.

The copper still. Image: Isle of Barra Distillers

“It feels like each bottle represents all the different characters from our Island home, all different, all with their story to tell,” he added.

The bottle weight has also been reduced by 17%, but crucially the distance from Allied Glass, who manufacture the bottle, to the Isle of Barra Distillers is now 406 miles. This is now 382 miles less than their previous supplier.

Future plans for the distillery

The distillers also secured planning permission in December 2022 to build a £12 million whisky and gin distillery, which is expected to open around spring 2025.

Both the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Planning Committee and the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Planning Department granted approval, with works due to start in the last quarter of 2023.

Artist impression of the new distillery and visitor centre. Image: Isle of Barra Distillers

The premises will also house a visitor centre and is expected to bring more than 40 jobs to the isle of Barra. The long-term goal is that by year 13, a 10-year-old single malt Scotch whisky will be released.

Michael also has plans to launch a Isle of Barra Distillers Foundation. Every year, the foundation will donate 1% of total net profits back into the local community.

In February last year the distillers introduced a four-day working week which has been hailed a huge success by employees.

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[Isle of Barra Distillers sign Waitrose & Partners deal for 120 stores]


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