Kelso Gin Company move on up after a troubled time

Oliver Drake and Andrew Crow at Kelso Gin Company's distillery at Harestanes.Oliver Drake and Andrew Crow at Kelso Gin Company's distillery at Harestanes.
Oliver Drake and Andrew Crow at Kelso Gin Company's distillery at Harestanes.
The bosses of a Borders gin distillery are in high spirits as they look to the future in the company’s new home.

The past 18 months have been something of a nightmare for Kelso Gin Company bosses Andrew Crow and Oliver Drake after the pair were arrested and taken to court over allegations they were illegally selling homemade alcohol.

Now, having been cleared of those allegations this month, the pair, both 63, are looking to the future with optimism.

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“The support we have had has been incredible,” distiller Andrew said. “It’s just a damn shame that we have been thwarted by those allegations.

“Mentally, we felt like we were treading water.

“We had to stand still all that time. All these plans could only come together after the not-guilty verdict.”

The former farrier, from Langlee near Jedburgh, is now enjoying creating new gins, and old favourites, at the firm’s new base at Harestanes visitor centre near Ancrum.

“They are investing a lot of money into Harestanes which is a good thing,” business partner Oliver added. “Us being here has also changed the dynamic of the visitor centre a little.

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“Going forward, it won’t just be mums and toddlers visiting Harestanes, but people interested in locally-produced food and drink and we’re excited to be a part of that.

“An online shop will be opening shortly and we are in the process of getting a premises licence for here so we can sell our goods here.”

The two-storey distillery, which includes a distilling area and separate bottling and labelling room, is a far cry from their previous home at the former Tempest brewery space in Kelso.

“It was a freezing cold old dairy before Tempest took it on, so it wasn’t ideal,” Oliver added. “We moved here last year and it’s perfect for us. We have a great working relationship with Harestanes too.”

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Set up in 2016, Kelso Gin Company uses only organic grain spirit and has so far created over 20 different flavours of small batch gin as well as larger batches of their trademark Crow Man’s gin.

They use only locally foraged fruits and selected spices in their spirits and limited edition flavours include the Reiver Spirit, of which 80 bottles were made for Hawick Common Riding in 2017.

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