North Uist's first ever gin was released on Thursday 25 April with the launch of a brand-new product, named Downpour.

The spirit is characterised by turning cloudy in the glass, the result of a 'downpour' of essential oils.

The gin is the first release from the island's only legal distillery, North Uist Distillery.  

Run by Jonny Ingledew and Kate MacDonald, the distillery was set up in 2017 and operates out of a small boutique space on the west coast of the island.  

An announcement from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that they have “issued an Enforcement Notice on Advertised Delivery Restrictions and Surcharges” has been welcomed.

The measure comes as the ASA have ruled that adverts which “mislead on parcel delivery and surcharge practices” have been banned, forcing companies to be upfront with consumers from the outset as to how much they will need to pay in delivery costs for goods.

Companies who advertise free delivery on items, yet impose punitive charges well into the purchasing process will be slapped down by the ASA after the 31st May 2018, when the new rules come into effect.

The action follows a campaign led by Moray MP Douglas Ross who has campaigned to abolish discriminatory delivery charges, raising the issue with the Prime Minister and holding a debate in Westminster on the matter.

Donald Cameron MSP said: “This is a big step forward in protecting consumers from misleading delivery advertising.  All too often, people who live across the Highlands and Islands region attempt to buy products online in good faith that they will receive free delivery, only to find out after entering their postcode that punitive charges will be imposed.  I welcome this intervention by the Advertising Standards Authority, and hopefully we can continue with the wider campaign of ditching discriminatory delivery charges for good”

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing, put forward his plans for proceeding with the reform of crofting law, at a specially convened meeting of the Cross Party Group on Crofting.   

He promised that there will be a bill in this parliamentary session which corrects the major anomalies in the current law and so enables it to work appropriately for crofters.  This is the essential course of action needed and will pave the way to a consolidation bill in the next session.  It is what the SCF and the Crofting Commission asked for in the consultation. 

There will also be a fundamental review running in parallel which may enable more far-reaching changes to crofting law, whilst maintaining crofters’ rights, in the future – should it be deemed necessary and beneficial to crofting. 

This is a very pragmatic approach and good news for crofting.  Get the current legislation fixed with minimal disruption, consolidate the legislation into one act and then in future, should it be deemed necessary, make bolder changes.  We are confident that we can see real progress at last. 

By Patrick Krause 

Following on from the crofting consultation at the back-end of last year, Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing put forward his plans for proceeding with the reform of crofting law at a specially convened meeting of the Cross Party Group on Crofting organised by the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF). 

He promised that we will have a Bill in this parliamentary session which corrects the main anomalies in the current law and so enables it to work appropriately for crofters.  This is the essential course of action needed and will pave the way to a consolidation bill in the next session.  It is exactly what SCF, the Crofting Commission and crofting lawyers asked for and is very good news for crofting.  This ensures that crofters’ rights are protected whilst a fundamental review runs in parallel that may enable more far-reaching changes to crofting law in the future.‎ 

Meanwhile, the paper on the NFUS vision for agricultural support post-Brexit ‘Steps to Change’, published recently, seems to ignore crofting.  It is a considerable piece of work and, granted, it must be very challenging trying to write policy that will satisfy crofters on marginal land in the North West whilst playing to the tune of the Region One farmers in the East. 

There are some aspirations that crofters would support to be sure, such as food production thriving whilst providing positive environmental outcomes and public goods, but, unfortunately, the paper comes across as a thesis on the shoring-up of the industrial agriculture model.  There is no mention of the provision of crofting-specific support measures, environmentally-sound extensive grazing or the capping of support payments; perhaps no surprises there.  But it is striking that a document which claims to be a vision for the future of Scottish agricultural support doesn’t seem to have considered new entrants. 

A carrageen seaweed pudding made by his mother led Michael Morrison to produce a gin that uses algae grown on the Isle of Barra’s wild shores as one of its 17 botanicals. 

Now, just six months after launching Barra Atlantic Gin, the 26-year-old, from Eoligarry, has secured over 150 stockists throughout the UK, including 21 hotels, restaurants, and bars since January.  

Stockists include The Kitchin, Michelin starred restaurant in Edinburgh, the iconic Atlas Bar in Manchester, and the luxury cruise ship, The Hebridean Princess. 

Having already opened a retail outlet in the island’s main village last December and created three full-time jobs, Michael is on target to begin exporting his unique gin, which has featured in both British Vogue and GQ magazines, before the summer.  

The furniture maker to trade, whose first business created bespoke wooden boxes for high-end whisky bottles, is now using advice from Business Gateway Outer Hebrides to identify potential funding that would allow him to open Barra’s first distillery.  

He said: “When I launched Isle of Barra Distillers last year, I knew I wanted to bring production of our gin to the island as quickly as possible, as currently we ship our botanicals to London where the gin is distilled for us. But establishing production on the island takes a lot of investment. By taking the gin to market first, it not only allows us to build credibility and demand, it helps generate an income that can be re-invested into establishing a distillery where the product will be made from scratch.