When the Scottish Gin Society visited Phil, Tabatha and Panza at their home and distillery in The Pentland Hills, we were welcomed to a real sense of passion and desire to do something worthwhile.
Tarbraxus Distillery (home to Pentland Hills Gin) isn’t just dedicated to producing excellent Scottish Gin, but we learned that sustainability is at the heart of everything they do there as well.
Phil Cox – Head Distiller, says that the decision to make gin in this remote corner of South Lanarkshire was based upon their family ethos of sustainability, centred around their lives in the Pentland Hills with dogs, cats and occasional sheep.
You might not know this, but Pentland Hills Gin is already made using solar power and, in the relatively near future, the team hope to have their own bore-hole up and running, meaning fresh, pure Pentland Hills water for the distillation process.
In the meantime, they have undertaken an analysis of their Scottish Water feed to understand how much plastic is within the water they use (in consultation with Strathclyde University).
In line with their sustainable outlook, where they can, they also use locally-grown botanicals to flavour their gin and are working to grow the majority of those required within their own polytunnels (Apparently, however, it is a bit difficult to grow cocoa and oranges in South Lanarkshire but you never know!).
Phil says “Our main aim at the present is to use our small acreage to grow juniper trees. We have a mixture of pasture, woodland and moorland into which we can plant new juniper and we recently drove to Trees for Life (based near Loch Ness) to acquire a range of juniper trees in order to further develop our small juniper plantation. With luck we might see our own juniper crop within a year or so.”
One of the biggest innovations that comes with Pentland Hills Gin is the offer of a refill service. Phil says:
“When we launched the gin in November 2018 we included within our advertising the opportunity to return the bottle and have it refilled. This has not been a simple process, firstly we needed to design a bottle that could withstand the necessary rewashing and labelling. We overcame this by etching our bottle using a sandblasting technique reducing the need for labelling. In addition to the etching, we agreed with HRMC that new duty labelling would be applied to the bottle once it had been washed and filled prior to being returned to the owner. Each bottle has a hand-etched number on the base which links the bottle to the customer via our database.”
They have also developed a bespoke cardboard box that can sustain a number of postal journeys. And, even better, customers using the refill service save themselves a tenner!
Phil believes that there is no ‘silver bullet’ within ‘circular sustainability’ and the Tarbraxus Distillery team really believe that all ideas that support the environment, big or small, count.
Another bonus of the refill service is that they have got to know their postman, Mark, really well. Phil says: “Royal Mail moves our packages and Mark is a real fan of the gin, it’s all a bit of a win/win really!”
To find out more about Tarbraxus Distillery, the refill service, Panza (the labrador) or to buy Pentland Hills Gin, visit their webiste.