Mother & Daughter at the helm of Badvo Distillery

Helen and Avril Stewart are the mother-daughter team behind Badvo, Pitlochry’s Gin, which launched in July of last year. Helen founded Badvo after falling in love with the spirits industry after working for a distillery at 18. After seeing the potential of a gin distillery on her family farm she developed Badvo, a gin which is entirely hand foraged from the Badvo hill farm. 

Ahead of Mother’s Day, we thought it would be fitting to speak to Helen and Avril and learn about how they work together to produce this fantastic Scottish Gin.

What did you say when Helen told you she wanted to open a distillery?

A- ‘When Helen mentioned about the distillery I was immediately interested but it did seem like a big project and took a lot of research. I was amazed to see the facilities that we had, how well the buildings suited, and how we actually managed to supply all of the botanicals on site.’

What are your main responsibilities?

A- ‘I focus on the foraging, bribing Helen with coffee to work, then we both work together for the distilling and bottling. I really enjoy the foraging, I just go out with buckets and my sheepdogs so whenever it’s dry weather I’m out to make sure we have enough botanicals.’

H- ‘My main responsibility is tasting and blending the gin. As it’s hand foraged I need to correct any quirks to ensure I get the flavour profile I’m after. I do some foraging but I’m more paperwork based day-to-day. I’m more focused on our collaboration projects, dealing with sales, retailers, and generally maintaining the amazing growth we’ve seen so far. As a result, I get to travel a fair bit, which is fun, but there are always bottles for me to label when I get back home.’

What is the ‘most challenging’ thing about working together?

A- ‘Getting Helen to get anything meaningful done before lunch. She’s not exactly a morning person.’

H- ‘Nothing really. Avril is a delight to work with.’

A- ‘Yeah, cos I let you do what you want.’

What’s the best thing about working together?

A- ‘We get on very well so we have lots to chat about. Our skillset really compliments each other as we’re strong at different things.’

H- ‘I think everyone is always amazed at how well we work together but I think we’re in a bit of a unique situation. On the farm, we’ve always worked closely together so we already had that working dynamic.’

What will you be doing for Mother’s Day?

A- ‘When is it?’

H- ‘A wee trip to St Andrews for fish and chips maybe.’

What has been the highlight of the distillery so far?

H- ‘So far I’ve really enjoyed seeing how well Badvo has been received, doing talks and selling at events. It makes for such varied work when we’re foraging, distilling, bottling, then out meeting people.’

A- ‘Dougie. Helen got a distillery cat and although he is a terrible thief (who will even eat lemon cake) I love him dearly.’

H- ‘You can’t just say your highlight is the cat. You can have a cat without a distillery.’

A- ‘But he helps me forage.’

What are you planning for 2019?

A- ‘We made amazing sloe gin last year and I can’t wait to start that again. I almost chopped down the sloe berry bushes because sheep kept getting stuck in them at lambing but now I know what they are I’m going to fence them off and take good care of them.’

H- ‘Can you imagine if I’d come back to the farm to make sloe gin and you’d cut down all the bushes? That would have been crazy.’

A- ‘It was a close one.’

H- ‘I have a really big collaboration project launching in May that I’m not allowed to talk about yet but I’m very excited about. I’m also looking forward to the Summer launch of our postcard editions, we did a soft launch last year and our entire stock sold out in two weeks, so I think that will be really fun to get stuck back into this Summer.’

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