THE team of ladies whose dream of opening a distillery on Cumbrae has turned into a global business are celebrate the venture's first birthday.

Millport’s only gin distillery opened on September 16 last year in the midst of the pandemic – and has gone from strength to strength with tours, tastings and drinks being exported across the world.

Distiller Philippa Dalton says that despite the ladies originally knowing nothing about the industry, their determination has turned a pipe dream into a huge success.

She said: “Our idea for an island distillery originated as a way to help our community raise funds for its town hall, which at the time needed £3 million to reopen.

“We were also motivated by the possibility of a distillery providing meaningful work opportunities and skills to young islanders, but we could never have imagined how far we would come in just 12 months.

“While collectively we have decades of life experience between us, but we knew nothing about the food and drinks industry.

“We started from scratch but could never have believed we would be so successful."

Philippa says the ladies, Bronwyn Jenkins-Deas, Jenine Ward, Juli Dempsey and Lynda Gill, managed to learn everything themselves through grit, determination and hard work.

She explained: “We didn't know that six months after we launched, the world would be paralysed by a pandemic.

“It was certainly a business challenge but in the end, we turned the challenges of the pandemic into an opportunity to learn.

“From distilling to licensing and branding our products and running social media campaigns, we have done everything on our own, learning new things, and loving every moment of the journey.

“As we move past our first year, we have already produced two award-winning gins, which is a huge accomplishment for any distillery.”

Philippa hailed her four fellow distillers and says it proves that women can be a success in the drinks industry.

She said: “In addition to being one of the only female-owned distilleries in Scotland, we proudly represent the possibilities for older woman.

“We are proof that you can start a business at any age with a good idea, that women can be successful in a male-dominated industry and that age is just a number.

“With age comes clarity, and it tells you all about who you are, what you want and what drives you forward.

“We have seized the opportunity to utilise our collective wisdom and leadership to create a business that is making a difference to our island community.”