A young Glaswegian once given a “stern talking to” for selling home-made gin to his schoolmates has used lockdown to launch an award-winning drinks business.
Bruce Walker, 22, from Broomhill, turned his passion for spirits into a company called Purist Gin after finding himself jobless when the first coronavirus shutdown hit.
But within months, the first batch of his product had won a bronze medal at the Scottish Gin awards in a category with 150 entrants, including established names like Edinburgh Gin and Isle of Harris gin.
Mr Walker told the PA news agency his love for spirits began in his teenage years, when he would make so-called “bathtub gin” by infusing botanicals in a jar with a raw alcohol for his classmates to enjoy at parties.
He said: “I was doing that, making it for my friends, and one day at school I got caught with some of the gin and I was given a very stern warning and told ‘do not do this again or you will get into a lot of trouble’. I was maybe around 16.”
Mr Walker said he set up Purist Gin and started to make some headway before the first lockdown hit in March 2020.
He said: “I was very dejected when the lockdown happened. I had set up a business, got my licence, and picked up a client – but then everything shut.
“But within six weeks I had bottles going out to people.
“I use a process called the single-shot method.
“The only thing that goes into the gin when it comes out is water, it makes for a much smoother, cleaner product.
“There’s no additional ethanol and using almond powder gives it a really mellowed-out flavour.
“The process is more expensive, more labour intensive, but worth it.”
Purist, which contains flavours of orange, cassia, juniper, coriander and citrus yuzu fruit, came third place in a blind taste-test competition last November in the London dry gin category of the Scottish Gin Awards.
“It was unbelievable, I couldn’t quite believe it actually, it was a crazy, crazy experience that night”, Mr Walker said.
His mother Colette has since quit her job in the public sector to join her son’s growing business, saying: “As soon as I tasted it I knew Bruce was on to something.
“I really can’t wait for more people to try it as the feedback so far has been incredible.”
Mr Walker said the next step is getting his product into bars and restaurants for people to enjoy “as hospitality reawakens”.
Each batch of gin is wrapped in a label designed by a different artist, and people are invited to apply to create a design for the next batch.