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Crafting Rural Business Resilience: From Gin to Hand Sanitizer

Alumni Jill Brown holding a bottle of her AVVA Gin

Jill Brown studied Rural Business Management at SRUC Aberdeen, and is the owner and founder of Moray Distillery, producing award-winning Scottish gin.

The Covid pandemic has thrown challenges at everyone, yet these challenges have also shown how resilient Scottish businesses are – within 48 hours of being given the go-ahead at the start of the pandemic, Jill’s stills were producing hand sanitiser gel.

“Pretty much all of our stock in the first two weeks went to healthcare, community care, care homes – they had just been left high and dry with nothing, no supplies, and they still needed to do their jobs within the community” says Jill.

Groups of spirit producers were set up across the country so that people could help each other.

“You couldn’t be more thankful for the co-operation in the Scottish industry,” says Jenny McKerr, an Agriculture graduate from SRUC Ayr and owner-founder of The Wee Farm Distillery in Lanarkshire. “You are isolated at the best of times, so being able to go to that group to bounce questions off and share information about sourcing some of the ingredients was great.”

Resilience is a key trait seen across Scotland’s rural community, and the spirit producers are no exception. Jenny continues:

“It’s about having the resilience you learn from your courses at SRUC to pivot and look at something else and see how you can get the business going.”

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