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Case study

Gledfield Distillery

Woman in green dress holding small copper still in front of a wall

How IMPACT30 helped launch Gledfield Distillery

Ciara Bow has worked in the distilling industry since she was 18 years old, inspired by her family’s legacy in the industry.

Starting her career as a tour guide in a whisky distillery, Ciara then progressed to become a distiller. With hopes to honour her great great granny's spirit - in more ways than one – she describes her next steps as “a leap of faith” to start her own business, Gledfield Distillery.

After entering the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Create Highland Business Competition, Ciara was invited to present her proposal to a panel of judges where she was awarded the top prize. It was here she learned about IMPACT30 – and how to really get this business off the ground.

When applying for IMPACT30, Gledfield Distillery was still in the planning stages and without a premises. After doing some research online Ciara knew it would be a good opportunity to help develop her business and meet other young entrepreneurs who were in the same position.

 

IMPACT30 was an epic rollercoaster which helped me get where I am today.
Ciara Bow , Founder, Gledfield Distillery
Ciara Bow from Gledfield Distillery wearing a flowery blue dress and smiling

A bright future

Ciara said: “When I started IMPACT30, my business was just an idea. I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself or how I would go about launching Gledfield Distillery - but the programme helped me get where I am today.

“There are so many elements of the programme which helped my development. From the one-to-one sessions that held me accountable for progressing my business goals, to the network catch-ups with other young business owners, it pushed me to get out of my comfort zone.

“It was all part of the learning process that taught me the importance of being adaptable to change and to get ‘comfortable with being uncomfortable’ so I can grow as a person while developing my business.”

Graduating IMPACT30 in December [2023], Ciara now has not one, but two business premises! With a commercial unit in Tain, she is also working with Balnagown Estate to transform the Ice House in Ardgay into a visitor centre.

This project is part of Ciara’s long-term ambition to boost tourism in her local community and create job opportunities for young people in the area – especially keen to attract more women to join the industry.

The future looks bright for Ciara with plenty of exciting milestones to celebrate in 2024.

Brown and yellow wheat husks bundled together

A driving passion

As she prepares to mark two years in business on 14 February 2024 – Valentine’s Day, a fitting anniversary for this passion project – preparations are also underway for the launch of her first product, inspired by her great, great granny Marjorie.

Ciara explains: “My great, great granny Marjorie was born in 1884 and worked as an illicit brewer and distiller. When the excisemen came up to Ardgay from Beauly, all the way on horse and cart, she took her pot still and hid it under her petticoats. I just think that’s a brilliant story and it’s what has driven my passion for the industry. It’s in my blood!

“I’m now working on producing a range of oat-based botanical spirits inspired by her original recipes - using botanicals from the Scottish countryside, including heather from the hills and Scots pine needles.

“For every bottle of botanical spirit that I sell from the range, £1 will be generated to support local charities within the community.”

Ciara offered her words of advice for anyone thinking about applying to IMPACT30:

“You might be nervous, it might sound scary, but it’s so worth it. The programme will not only help your business grow, but it will help you grow, personally and professionally. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

“My experience has been an epic rollercoaster, with tough challenges and epic highs. And I’ve come out the other end a much more confident entrepreneur.”

Find out more about IMPACT30

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