Welcoming 'On the Sauce Again' to The Orkney Distillery

Welcoming 'On the Sauce Again' to The Orkney Distillery

A few weeks ago, we invited renowned gin blogger ‘On the Sauce Again’ to The Orkney Distillery to visit the home of Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin. 
 
Inka, the woman behind the writing is a #spiritsblogger and self-confessed glassware lover who documents her love of spirits and adventure through her blog. 
 
We thoroughly enjoyed welcoming Inka to The Orkney Distillery, and it was great to share the stories of our Norse heritage and Viking past, washed down with a dram or two of our Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin. 
 
Head over to her blog, On The Sauce Again, to read all about her Orcadian adventure and her first experience of learning to ‘Drink like a Viking’.

Other articles:

Meet the team: Anja Hall

Meet the team: Anja Hall

For the latest of our meet the team series we grabbed a gin and sat down with Anja Hall - our Business Operations Manager - to discuss her role within our distillery team.

When did you first join the Kirkjuvagr Team?

I first started working at The Orkney Distillery as a Bar Operative and Tour Guide straight out of school in August 2018. I then grew into an admin role and have progressed into my current role as Orkney Distilling’s Business Operations Manager.

What does a typical day at The Orkney Distillery look like for you?

Every day at The Orkney Distillery is different! I spend most of my time in the office taking care of HR and finance and, if you ever call us, I’m usually the person at the other end of the phone. 

Besides my usual admin responsibilities, I love getting stuck in on the bar when I get a chance. I don’t usually get much of an opportunity to be creative in my day-to-day role so love creating new cocktail recipes and posting on our social media pages when time permits.

Now you've mentioned it, tell us your favourite cocktail at the moment?

It's difficult to pick just one but I'd say a Beyla Blush! It's Beyla, Chambord, raspberry syrup and lots of ice topped up with lemonade and finished with sliced strawberries. 

The full recipe, for anyone who wants to try it at home!

  • 35ml Beyla
  • 25ml Chambord
  • Dash of raspberry syrup
  • Add lots of ice and top with lemonade and sliced strawberries

How have the ongoing effects of COVID-19 affected your role and what are you most excited about now that restrictions are beginning to ease?

At the beginning of the pandemic, we began producing hand sanitizer which was a huge change for me. I had never worked in production before, so it was really interesting for me to see another side of the company.

Oot The Back was another big project that was born out of lockdown. I really enjoyed seeing the project through from start to finish, and it was great being able to welcome back our customers to an environment where they feel safe!

I am really looking forward to our next summer season and being able to welcome visitors back to Orkney and to our distillery. Hopefully we will be able to expand our tour offering and return to normality!

Meet the Team: Anna Younie

Since the Orkney Distillery opened in 2018, the Kirkjuvagr story has been one of amazing growth – from the range of products and production volume to the skillset and size of our in-house team. Anna Younie has been a core part of the team throughout the journey – transitioning from weekends working behind the bar to our Events & Marketing Manager.

 

When did you first join the Kirkjuvagr Team?

I first started at the Orkney Distillery as a tour guide and bar operative in 2018 after graduating and returning home from uni. It was a great chance for me to get involved in a company that was just beginning to develop and it’s been a really exciting journey to be able to grow with the business.

 

What does a typical day at The Orkney Distillery look like for you?

No two days are ever the same for me - it’s great to have that bit of variety in your job! Between organising content for our social media pages, working with various publications regarding adverts to showcase our gins and helping local businesses and members of the public to arrange their events in the distillery’s function room, there’s always plenty going on!

I especially like being able to work closely with clients who wish to have a bespoke label designed for their own gin. We’ve previously had customers approach us to help them create a personalised label for the likes of weddings, business anniversaries and most recently the launch of a new fishing boat! It’s lovely to be able to help folk create something that’s special and a wee bit different to the usual keepsakes.

 

How have the ongoing effects of COVID-19 affected your role and what are you most excited about now that restrictions are beginning to ease?

I initially started my journey with the distillery team as a part-time worker on Friday and Saturday evenings before training to be a tour guide and later becoming bar supervisor in 2019! As time progressed, and the pandemic forced us all to close, we dived into the world of hand sanitiser where myself and some of the team began producing and bottling all we could to make sure our hospital, local schools, key workers and latterly shops had what they needed. Over a year later it’s still being distributed and used throughout the community.

I was then able to try my hand on the production line, assisting to distil and bottle the gin. This is a really exciting part of the business to try and learn a bit more about. As places started to reopen, we were able to shift our focus back to distilling our products and spending more time on our own marketing, which allowed me to relocate myself up to the distillery office in May this year. As part of the reopening I have now taken on the events and marketing side of the business. This is the part I really enjoy – being able to create content for our social media and keep you lovely lot up to date with the goings on at the distillery.

It’s been a speedy (and very eventful!) three years with the Kirkjuvagr team and its really exciting to be able to have a job where you can try your hand at a variety of different aspects to the business.

Northwest Passage Expedition Gin wins gold at The Gin Masters 2021

Northwest Passage Expedition Gin wins gold at The Gin Masters 2021

Our Northwest Passage Expedition Gin has won a gold award in the ultra-premium category at The Spirits Business’ 2021 Gin Masters awards.

This year’s competition recorded 472 entries from 233 companies – making it the biggest competition in The Global Spirits Masters series to date.

Each spirit was judged in a two-day blind tasting event in London, chaired by The Spirits Business and a panel of leading spirits specialists.

Launched late last year as a collaboration between Orkney Distilling and the Northwest Passage Expedition team, the gin’s unique flavours are drawn from Sugar Kelp, Angelica Archangelica, Ramanas Rose, and Burnet Rose.

Orkney boasts a strong connection to the history of Arctic exploration, water used during distillation sourced from the same well that early explorers - such as Captain’s Sir James Cook and Sir John Franklin - used to stock their ships in Orkney.

The Northwest Passage Expedition itself is an attempt to be the first to the row the 3,700km arctic route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Jack Hopkins, one of the eight crew members embarking on the expedition, was delighted to learn of the gin’s success: "To see Northwest Passage Expedition Gin win Gold in the The Spirits Business "Gin Master” is amazing. We have had so many great comments about our gin since it was launched and to be recognised by this award is really exciting.

We hope the award will help us market the gin to a wider audience and in doing so help us raise the funds needed for the expedition as well as help us with our goal of supporting Big Blue Ocean Cleanup, the marine conservation organisation.

We have to thank Stephen Kemp and the team at Orkney Distillery for all the support we have received and making this all possible.”

The gold award is the first formal recognition for Northwest Passage Expedition Gin, and the third award picked up by The Orkney Distillery in 2021 after both Beyla and Kirkjuvagr tasted success earlier this year.

If you’re ready to be transported back to the Age of Discovery, Northwest Passage Expedition Gin is available online now!

Northwest Passage Expedition team row Scottish coast with training trip to Orkney Distillery

Northwest Passage Expedition team row Scottish coast with training trip to Orkney Distillery

Later this month a crew from the Northwest Passage Expedition team will be rowing from Newcastle upon Tyne to Kirkwall as part of their training for next year’s world-first row along the Arctic’s Northwest Passage.

The expedition teamed up with The Orkney Distillery last year to launch Northwest Passage Expedition Gin to help fund the arctic expedition and support the team’s marine conservation partners, Big Blue Ocean Cleanup.

The gin’s recipe includes botanicals from the shores of both Orkney and Canada’s Hudson Bay, including Sugar Kelp which was hand-collected by Orkney Distilling’s Managing Director, Stephen Kemp, and local expedition crew member, Davie Flett.

Orkney-based Davie is one of eight crew members taking part in the expedition, with the crew aiming to become the first to the row the 3,700km arctic route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

The team are set to leave Newcastle on 19th July and are expected to complete the 350-mile journey to Kirkwall in 7-10 days. Eyemouth, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen have been identified as weather-permitting stop off points along the route.

The crew will be training in Avalon - a 44ft, eight crew rowing boat – and will be visible from the Scottish coast for most of the journey. Their progress throughout can be tracked via Marine Traffic’s website or app – just search the boat’s Automatic Identification System callsign, ‘Avalon’.

Speaking ahead of the trip north, expedition Leader Leven Brown said: "We are delighted to start our offshore training with a row from Newcastle upon Tyne to Kirkwall. Each of the crew have been training on their own under covid restrictions and with those gradually being lifted now is a chance to bring the team together.

The row to Orkney is a challenge in its own right and will help with team bonding and developing the appropriate skills required for the arctic expedition. The 44ft Avalon is a beast of a rowing boat, designed with the Northwest Passage in mind, and I am looking forward to seeing how the crew work together.

Hopefully the conditions will be fair but being prepared for the unexpected is part of our training. We are also excited about visiting the Orkney Distillery in Kirkwall, who are supporting us by producing our Northwest Passage Expedition Gin, that should make for a great night.”

For those looking to taste the gin and unlock their spirit of adventure, Northwest Passage Expedition Gin is available through our shop here!

Meet the team: Lily Patching

Meet the team: Lily Patching

Lily, our Visitor Experience Manager, will usually be your first point of call when you visit or contact us at The Distillery here in Kirkwall. When she’s not busy processing your online orders or replying to customer queries, you can find her leading guided tours and sharing the story of Kirkjuvagr in the distillery visitor centre!

When did you first join the Kirkjuvagr Team?

I joined Orkney Distilling in September 2019, with over 7 years’ experience in the tourism industry.  I had previously worked at a Prehistoric tomb and visitors centre and was delighted to be offered a position at the Distillery, still within the tourism sector.  I feel that the work here is so variable, each day brings new opportunities and challenges so it keeps my role interesting!

What does a typical day at The Orkney Distillery look like for you?

I usually start my day with a coffee and managing our online enquiries in relation to the store, tours, and general enquiries.  Followed by the processing and dispatch of personal consumer orders.

My afternoons are spent setting up and leading guided tours of our Distillery.

This is my favourite part of my day, I can spend my time entertaining and enlightening our visitors, telling them the saga of Orkney Distilling. 

How have the ongoing effects of COVID-19 affected your role and what are you most excited about now that restrictions are beginning to ease?

At first, I was sadly furloughed due to a pre-existing health condition, it was hard to spend such a long time away from work not knowing when I would be back again.

After 3 months of furlough, I was back.  Although it took quite a while to settle into a new ‘Covid-friendly’ routine here at the Distillery.  The tour layout has had to change to abide by Scottish Government guidelines, we currently utilize the front bar and gift shop as the tour area, as we cannot allow for visitors to travel through the working Distillery during an ongoing pandemic.

This did impact on my tours quite drastically, but we were optimistic and thankful that we could still welcome visitors on occasion.

I am looking forward to being able to run guided tours of the Distillery again, taking visitors through the working Distillery and showing them all there is behind-the-scenes here at Orkney Distilling.

Meet the Team: Stephen & Aly Kemp

Meet the Team: Stephen & Aly Kemp

Our Directors Stephen & Aly Kemp are kicking off our new blog series by letting us find out more about the pair and their Kirkjuvagr Gin journey.

What made you decide to start your own gin company?

 We’d been travelling to various events and weddings quite a lot in 2015, and new and interesting craft gins were appearing all around the country.  At that time, a strongly branded gin was notably absent in Orkney, so we set about developing a new gin brand that was unmistakably Orcadian.

 

What has been your biggest highlight in business since starting your company?

Opening the Orkney Distillery was a massive achievement for us, as we’d wanted from the outset to create a flagship home for Kirkjuvagr, and it took a lot of work in a short time to get there within two years of launching our first gin!

Opening our more recent ‘garden bar’ called Oot the Back was also thrilling last year, as we emerged from Lockdown.  The Team all put in such an effort to create a truly unique and amazing offering, and we’re really proud of the result!

 

What is your favourite gin from the Kirkjuvagr range?

 Aly: Beyla. For me, this is probably the one that I influenced the most, and I absolutely love the soft pink colour tone!

Stephen:  I can’t say I have a specific favourite, as I like them all, and I find that tastes can change depending on the weather, your surroundings, mood, etc etc! Right now though, I’m really enjoying our Northwest Passage Expedition Gin. It’s been great to have an opportunity to support the Expedition, and our local friend Davie Flett (who’s one of the rowers) and I went to Birsay and harvested sugar kelp that we used as a botanical, so tasting the result really is very satisfying.