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Moray whisky experience business has big growth ambitions

Speyside-based whisky experiences firm CopperCairn has secured funding to take its bespoke tasting tours to the next level.

Mitch Bechard launched his CopperCairn business in October 2020.

He was previously a global whisky ambassador for William Grant and Sons and Glenfiddich.

After 15 years in the industry, he decided to channel his passion and extensive knowledge into a new venture aimed at whisky enthusiasts, offering tastings, bespoke dinners, tours, retreats and masterclasses from newly renovated accommodation in the heart of Speyside.

Mr Bechard was a global whisky ambassador for Glenfiddich.

CopperCairn has also teamed up with a photography expert to deliver an all-inclusive Drams and Cams retreat next month. Participants will enjoy insider distillery visits, whisky dinners and tastings, alongside photography lessons.

Mr Bechard’s ambitions for the firm were recently boosted by £20,000 from the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans scheme.

It is already helping him to further develop his tasting tours and take his business, which is based in Carron, near Aberlour, on the road.

The value small businesses bring to the Scottish economy is vital, and the Start Up Loans programme is designed to develop exciting businesses like CopperCairn.”

Barry McCulloch, senior manager, British Business Bank.

Mr Bechard used the UK Government-backed funding to buy a luxury, custom-built, eight-seater van to take groups around some of Scotland’s best distilleries.

He said: “Whisky has been a passion of mine for over 15 years.

“I’d been thinking of starting my own company for a while, so when the opportunity came up I had to jump on it.

“Despite starting in the middle of the pandemic, business picked up quickly.

“I decided to take my idea further, with the purchase of the van to take the tours out on the road.”

CopperCairn’s new van.

He added: “I love sharing my knowledge of whisky, and I’m always looking for new and exciting ways to show people the craft and beauty of Scotland’s national drink.

“The van provides the flexibility to drive customers to hidden gems around Scotland, as well as giving an extra edge to our tours and experiences – tailoring each one to our customer’s wishes.

“Receiving the funding and support from DSL Business Finance (the official delivery partner of the Start Up Loans programme) was an essential stepping stone in this next phase of CopperCairn.”

The 48-year-old’s future plans include growing a fleet of vans.

“I want this to be more than just your normal whisky tour but a unique experience, where we can combine various activities and interests,” he added.

CopperCairn is one of more than 90 small businesses in Moray to have received a Start Up Loan from the British Business Bank.

Barry McCulloch, senior manager, UK Network, Scotland, at the bank, said: “Our Start Up Loans initiative was created to help ambitious entrepreneurs.

“The whisky and tourism industries are both very significant for Scotland and it’s great to support success stories like Mitch’s.

“The value smaller firms bring to the Scottish economy is vital, and the Start Up Loans programme is designed to develop exciting businesses like CopperCairn.”

Job creation

DSL Business Finance executive director Stuart Yuill said “Our loan officer, Rekha Welsh, was very impressed with Mitch’s business plan, sector knowledge, experience and passion to share that with others, whilst also creating a business.

“We are delighted to support this next stage of its development, and wish Mitch every success for the future as he looks to grow and expand his offering – thereby creating more jobs in Scotland.”

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