Elevator Awards 2017

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Gin Provides a Tonic for Rugby Legend

Gin Provides a Tonic for Rugby Legend

One suspects gin has played a part in rugby off-field antics for many years, but for one of Scotland’s most respected players it has become a heady mix in his now varied career.

Ruaridh Jackson, an adopted Aberdeen loon, responsible for 13 years of on pitch tension, excitement and emotion has left the rugby playing field to develop his coaching skills with Glasgow Accies’. But it’s for his off-pitch activities that he’s receiving his most recent accolades.

Ruaridh has set up the Garden Shed Drinks Company with fellow Glasgow Warriors graduate and Scotland prop, Ryan Grant. Their business has now grown some way beyond its humble beginnings and Ruaridh is looking forward to taking on a more involved role when he finally hangs up his boots.

The duo are joined in the enterprise by their wives Kirstin and Maxine who share the dream of making fresh and delicious gin in the most environmentally responsible way. The idea behind Garden Shed Gin evolved when a group of friends were enjoying a few beers in Glasgow’s west end after a recent visit to a local distillery. Following the usual joking around, they soon got chatting about the idea of creating their own gin brand. As the chatting went on the more the idea grew and after a few more drinks and delusions of grandeur, the Garden Shed Drinks Company was born.

All four partners in the business are in tune with their development plan and each has a role to play. Maxine provides one half of the creative mind behind all the branding and design and is the perfectionist of the group keeping standards high. Kirstin’s role is to keep spirits high, graphics on point and sample the newest drinks on the shelves. Ryan, who has a bachelors’ degree in environmental science, is at the fore front of creative ways to keep the Garden Shed Drinks Company as environmentally friendly as possible. Ruaridh, who grew up with a longing for the outdoors has a passion to help the environment and he feels the complexity and variety within all aspects of the drinks industry means you can never stop learning.

The key to their success is the many local ingredients they use. The botanicals found on their doorstep ranging from wild blackberries to dandelion roots and lavender. Their first gin was launched at Christmas just over two years ago when they sold their first selection of bottles to a local store in Glasgow and, since then, there has been no looking back. Today you can find their gin in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, London and are also exporting across the globe.

Their original plan was to make small batches in their garden shed to distribute as and when they could, but things went to another level. They spoke to Eden Mill who allowed them to use their stills and consequently produce bigger batches. This meant the team could focus on distribution by supplying wholesalers, bars, restaurants and retailers. It’s now a serious business. So much so that, in their first year of trading, they were nominated for best London dry gin at the 2018 Scottish Gin Awards. Also, in that first year they were totally blown away when their gin won a silver medal at the San Fransisco World Spirits competition and have gone on to win a gold medal in the International Spirits Competition.

However, The Garden Shed Drinks Company is much more than a revenue making enterprise. The ethos of the company is not only to make delicious spirits but to give back to nature by supporting Scottish charities. With deforestation at an unprecedented level, they plant for a tree for every case sold. The company has teamed up with Trees4Scotland in an effort to ‘do their bit’. Also, as the bumblebee population has crashed, they have chosen to donate a portion of their profits towards the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. What better way to help the team in their endeavours than to sit, guilt free, sipping a Garden Shed gin?

For a list of stockists (Including Dobbies Garden Centre Food Halls) and to shop online visit thegardensheddrinksco.com.