Gregor Hannah, director of Hannah Whisky, has found the perfect blend of rare and aged products with cutting-edge innovation that will take him into new overseas markets.
A couple of years ago, convinced there was a gap in the market for an independent whisky bottler, Fife-based entrepreneur Gregor Hannah launched Lady of The Glen. Since then things have gone from strength to strength. Here, after making good use of a Scottish Enterprise 'Make it to Market' grant, he answers a few questions.
What inspired you to get into business?
I felt there was not a strong, contemporary, independent bottler on the market and I wanted to fill that gap with high quality casks from distilleries which had either closed or only released a limited amount of whisky. The result is that I sell rare limited edition bottles of whisky which are of a very high taste quality.
Has your business changed much since it began in 2012?
We started with no exporting, very limited wholesale activity and a website for direct sales to the public. Now, we have the option of distribution to four non-UK countries, we release more bottled casks more often and the website attracts more people.
What was the project you used 'Make it to Market' funding for?
I had been exporting a while and I felt it was time to create more concrete foundations on which to build the business - foundations which allowed for safer export and also encouraged people to buy directly from me.
There had been a few weaknesses identified in the branding – in that, the writing was too small and the paper labels were susceptible to fraud, which made it difficult to export. I had also struggled to get attention from advertising streams and the website was a bit dated. The project aimed to resolve all of these issues by designing new bottles, getting a new website and working with an advertising agency.
What inspires you?
I take inspiration from businesses like Jo Malone and Ola Gorie – businesses with genuine grassroots that create beautiful things. They have a culture about them I really admire and that’s something I would love to have one day. People want something special and rare; I provide a limited edition boutique whisky.
How important is innovation to you and your business?
Tremendously important. For example, the bottles which we use are from a company that specializes in etching technology that is at the forefront of bottle design – this sets us apart from competition and reduces the risk from fraud as people cannot peel the labels off. As a small business it is important that innovations are found and fully explored as the competition is much bigger and it affords the opportunity to be different.
You’ve come a long way, what have you learned?
Plan for delays. Nothing tends to go according to plan or on time. Don’t rely on anyone and double check everything.
And what are your ambitions for the future?
To have a larger portfolio of whisky on offer through the website. Employ staff. Develop a reputation as the leading independent bottler for consistently bottled high quality whisky.
How we can help
Got global ambitions? Need support to take your idea to market?
Read about our Make it to Market grant