Amazing things can happen when you get neighbours rounds a table and start talking about hopes and dreams, and Claire Fletcher, Alicia MacInnes and Georgina Kitching took a chance conversation and turned it into a gin making reality on the Isle of Jura.
They had many things in common, their love of Jura and along with the talents they had picked up over the course of their respective careers, they have managed to get this business up and running and producing 8000 bottles a year.

The Scottish Farmer: Foraging for botanicals on JuraForaging for botanicals on Jura

Claire says: “Gin is all about taste, and we are proud that we are producing our own gin from the fruits of Jura. We use botanicals foraged for on the island, it is distilled, bottled and labelled here. It’s a Jura product through and through.
Claire mentions that they are very proud of their home-produced gin, particularly when there are many gins on the market that may have an authentic looking ‘island-made gin’ label on them, but the gin has been made in Manchester or some such other place.
Back to the beginning and fate shone a light on the project when HMRC relaxed the rules about licensing, allowing them to buy a 10 litre still from Amazon to get them started on the kitchen table.
They now have a 200 litre still and a dedicated distillery. Planting of new juniper bushes has taken place to keep up with demand, and polytunnels have been erected to grow the other 14 botanicals needed, including rose petals. Claire says they are trying to plan exactly where to put some polytunnels so that they don’t blow away.
Taste is everything and they have found that using frozen botanicals means they retain their properties much better than the dried version.
This has been a huge learning curve and Claire says they made lots of mistakes, and even though they are not big players in the gin world they are proud of where their product is heading.
“We sell locally, of course, and to Islay, which is just a five-minute ferry ride away is a good market for us, but we now work with distributors and exporters which sees our gin going across the continent, which is quite amazing when I say it out loud,” says Claire.
Being based in Jura brings obstacles. Jura is wild and remote. Really remote. It is two ferry rides away from the mainland, and the location and the way that the gin is made, in small batches, by hand, means that it is never going to be the cheapest gin on the market. And that’s fine, according to the ladies in charge. The gin market is getting saturated, however, quality usually survives the market fluctuations, so they don’t have any worries.
“I think the market will plateau, and will be split into different sections. There will be the gin used for cocktails, there will the premium gins and there will be the everyday gins. We are a premium gin and people appreciate the story behind our product. Lussa gin is a fresh, zesty, smooth gin with a subtle aromatic finish, uniquely born of this wild landscape.”
Claire concludes: “We make Lussa Gin at Ardlussa, at the north end of Jura. The terrain can be tough going and the weather unforgiving, but that’s why it’s an adventure. You could say it’s a labour of Lussa.”