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Teasmith Gin secures export deal with largest US indie wine retailer

Teasmith Spirits Company's Scottish premium gin, distilled with hand-picked tea, is to be stocked in shops across the US after producers secured an £80k export deal with America's largest independent wine retailer.

Aberdeenshire-based husband and wife Nick and Emma Smalley (pictured), who created the multi-award winning Teasmith Gin in 2016, have supplied 6,000 bottles to Total Wine & More for the initial phase of the product’s first ever export deal.

The premium gin will be on sale at 214 Total Wine & More stores across 26 states from May, with further stock being shipped stateside over the next three years providing significant revenues as part of an ongoing partnership.

The deal has come at a crucial time for the business which has faced several setbacks due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Nick Smalley said, “Our clientele is mostly small independent shops and high-end hospitality venues, both of which have had their operations significantly disrupted over the last year and will take some time to return to the productivity levels we were used to pre-COVID.

“This agreement with Total Wine & More is hugely significant for us as a brand, not only because it positions The Teasmith prominently within the expanding US gin market, but it also gives us the security to continue to develop the business and explore further opportunities.”

Inspired by Aberdeenshire’s rich history and links to the tea trade, The Teasmith Gin first attracted the attention of Total Wine & More at Scotland Food & Drink and Scottish Development International’s Showcasing Scotland event at Gleneagles Hotel in October 2019.

James Withers, Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drink, said, “The Teasmith Gin is a fantastic example of a local Scottish brand making a big impression at an international level and this deal is an excellent example of the opportunities which are created at events like Showcasing Scotland.

“By bringing Scottish producers together with international buyers, Showcasing Scotland gives businesses like The Teasmith Gin the opportunity to make vital connections which can pave the way for deals like this one.

“It has been an incredibly tough year for Scotland’s food and drink producers with the impact of Covid-19 and now real export challenges as a result of Brexit. So, it is great to hear some good news and it is confirmation that there are still new opportunities out there for us to grasp.

“We have world class products and more people wanting to source from Scotland. It is cause for real optimism, despite the current challenges.”

The Smalley’s are now targeting export opportunities in Canada and Asia, while deals in the EU look unlikely given ongoing complications following the Brexit transition period concluding on December 31, 2020.

HMRC figures cited by trade body The Gin Guild recently revealed UK exports of gin to the EU dropped by 25% in 2020, with Brexit causing time consuming and costly logistical difficulties for gin distillers and their suppliers.

Nick added, “Our bottles are made in Spain and our corks are produced in Italy so both items were tied up in lengthy delays caused by Brexit. We then faced issues with our packaging supplier who had a shortage of cardboard stock due to increased online shopping sales.

“We had to do quite a bit of renegotiating on the timeline with the client, who has been incredibly supportive and understanding of the situation, but it has been a very stressful couple of weeks, and we’re relieved to have fulfilled this initial order.”

Nick first began experimenting with spirits by creating sloe gin as favours for guests at the couple’s wedding.

He said further investigation into tea trading in the North-east inspired the concept and recipe used to create The Teasmith Gin.

The award-winning gin uses botanicals intrinsically associated with Aberdeenshire and is distilled in Perthshire’s Strathearn distillery.