IT started 15 years ago with a single barrel of experimental, whisky-infused beer sent back to the Capital from a distillery in Girvan, Ayrshire.
But now, the makers of Innis & Gunn are toasting a hugely successful year of trading that has seen the Edinburgh brewers complete sales of more than two million cases of their range of craft lagers for the first time.
The independent brewery, which started life in the city in 2002, also boasted a turnover of £14.3m as the company celebrated a 13th consecutive year of growth, posting a pre-tax profit of £331,000 having reported a loss of £275,000 the previous year.
The firm were also able to buy their first brewery, taking over the former Inveralmond site in Perth in April.
Chairman Tony Hunt hailed an “outstanding” year for the brewery and confirmed plans to “double” the size of the business over the next few years.
He said: “2016 was an outstanding year for Innis & Gunn and the start of a planned transformation of our business. We acquired our first-ever brewery, opened new ‘Beer Kitchens’, launched some delicious new beers, achieved record sales volumes and won our 46th award for quality since 2009.
“To top it off, through our crowdfunding we brought nearly 2,000 new shareholders into the Innis & Gunn community. Most important of all, we laid the foundations from which we plan to double the size of this business over the next two years.”
The beer initially began life as a cast-off from a special edition William Grant whisky made using ale created by the Caledonian brewing company, where founder Dougal Gunn Sharp was manager at the time.
Initially, the distillery intended to discard the unused ale, but discovered workers enjoyed its unique taste, with some even sneaking the beer home in buckets.
It has since grown to become one of Scotland’s most popular drinks, being distributed in countries including the United States, Canada, China and Hong Kong.
The company have also established ‘Beer Kitchens’ on Lothian Road in Edinburgh with three others in Glasgow, Dundee and St Andrews, even giving away more than 800 pint glasses in the Grassmarket in May in response to figures showing over 70,000 of their glasses had reportedly “gone missing” from bars in the city since 2013.
They’re now set to expand their offering in Europe after almost 600,000 bottles of the beer were sold in the first year of a new joint-venture with SIP Drinks in France.
The company said they planned to open more bars, adding that they were in “advanced negotiations” over sites in the UK and overseas.
Mr Hunt said: “Around the world, the opportunity is huge as increasing numbers of consumers develop a taste for authentic craft beer, and thanks to Dougal Gunn Sharp and our highly talented brewing team, Innis & Gunn is ideally placed to benefit from that trend.
“Our results are a tremendous testament to the hard work and dedication from our team. We are founded on a passion for great beer and this continues to drive us forward 15 years after we started.”
“We are proud to be representing Scotland and craft beer on a world stage.”