District News, June 11 2021

The Lussa Gin team, from left: Georgina Kitching, Alicia MacInnes and Claire Fletcher, alongside a bottle of the special USA edition of Lussa Gin.
The Lussa Gin team, from left: Georgina Kitching, Alicia MacInnes and Claire Fletcher, alongside a bottle of the special USA edition of Lussa Gin.

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‘Gincredible’ US order for Jura distillery

A gin company on Jura is celebrating after landing a massive order from America.

Lussa Gin, based at Inverlussa, has successfully shipped 5,500 specially-made bottles of its ‘aromatic’ gin to New York.

It will be distributed at retail outlets across 28 US states as the small island-based company takes a major step towards gaining a foothold in the world’s largest consumer market.

For a young female-led company based  at the end of a 25-mile single-track road, on one of Scotland’s least-populated islands, it is also a remarkable achievement in its young history.

Co-owned by three enterprising neighbours, Claire Fletcher, Georgina Kitching and Alicia MacInnes, Lussa Gin came to life in 2015 with their shared passion for gin and the hope of generating employment for themselves.

Delighted Claire said: ‘We are really proud. It is the most significant order we have had so far and provides us with an opportunity to scale-up.

‘It will have a massive impact for us and the timing was really good after the last year.

‘We hope this is the start of a long and natural relationship. There are many people in America who have a special place in their hearts for Scotland and the islands.’

To meet requirements in America, the paperwork side of exporting was ‘immense’ and required official approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Claire thanked Highlands and Islands Enterprise for its support in helping establish its base on the island, and said the growing business had also been able to expand and take on three members of staff.

It is now hopeful of talks about providing an order to Canada and said it had received valuable support from Islay-based hauliers B Mundell Limited.

The US order has its origins in an international trade event at Gleneagles in 2019.

Organised by Scotland Food and Drink, which champions the sectors and helps producers find customers, it led to conversations via Zoom to seal the deal.

It all started with just a 10-litre still and cultivating an aromatic spirit featuring 15 different botanicals all grown on the island.

It is now available online and from specialist independent off-licences, hotels, bars and restaurants.

It has built growing customer loyalty across Scotland and Germany, as well as overcoming the setback of the pandemic.



Pupil’s Gaelic film success wins parliamentary praise

Pupils from Islay High School have been praised at the Scottish Parliament after they were shortlisted for the FilmG Gaelic Learners Award.

Their success was highlighted in a parliamentary motion submitted by Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron.

He recently became the first Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP to be formally sworn into the Scottish Parliament taking the oath of office in Gaelic.

Mr Cameron said: ‘Islay is one of the heartlands of Gaelic and it is immensely encouraging to see young people, supported by their teachers, producing such a high-quality film project in the medium of Gaelic.

‘The future prospects of the language are vested in the commitment of the next generation of speakers and learners, so well done to all those involved.’

Kintyre and the Islands councillor Alastair Redman, an Islay resident, added: ‘There is a lot of island pride in this achievement which underlines how important it is that we should act to sustain Gaelic as a working, living language here on the island.

‘We are all really pleased that the efforts made to create the two films submitted have won such a high degree of recognition.’