Drinks maker unveils plan for ‘centre for vermouth excellence’ in Scottish Borders
New drinks brand Valentian Vermouth has marked the first ever World Vermouth Day by unveiling plans for a ‘centre for excellence’ in the Scottish Borders complete with a tasting room and experimentation studio.
Brothers, Dominic and David Tait, are the co-founders of drinks maker Tait Bros, and launched award-winning Valentian Vermouth in late 2019 just before the pandemic hit, earning plaudits from critics and consumers alike and positions on shelves in some of Scotland’s most stylish bars, restaurants and stockists in Edinburgh and Glasgow including The Balmoral, The Gannet and Valhalla’s Goat.
When the UK went into lockdown a year ago, the firm pivoted towards direct-to-consumer sales and a focus on independent sellers still able to operate under tight restrictions.
It meant the business was able to maintain momentum during a challenging 2020, and gave co-founder Dominic, who runs Tait Bros day-to-day with brother David as a backer, time to plan the next phase for the drinks maker, the crux of which is a crowdfunding campaign to finance the creation of a brand home and ‘centre for vermouth excellence’.
Proposals for the tasting room include a licensed Aperitivo bar, tasting room and retail space to allow consumers to sample and buy products, as well as co-working space and a private meeting room.
The experimentation studio provides a venue for Tait Bros, bartenders and other drinks companies with facilities for product development. It would also serve as a ‘centre of excellence’ in the area, with nearest comparable facilities in Edinburgh or London.
The preferred location for the proposed tasting room and experimentation studio is Melrose, in the Scottish Borders, at the foot of the Eildon Hills, which feature on the Valentian Vermouth bottle.
Dominic, 33, co-founder of Tait Bros, said: “Consumers are always looking for the next thing in drinks – they want new flavour experiences with a focus on quality ingredients and provenance, lower-abv, cocktail credentials – few products have all these elements, and Valentian Vermouth is one of them.
“The vermouth and aperitif market is growing, but Scotland is being left behind, and we believe that by creating a centre of excellence for vermouth in the Borders, we will place Valentian Vermouth at the forefront of the sector.
“The past year was tough, but it enabled us to underpin the work we had done to market the brand through traditional models, where bars and bartenders serve as your advocates, by pivoting towards independent outlets who filled that role. Our direct-to-consumer sales were also strong, and it puts us in a brilliant position to launch the next phase of pour ambition.”
As venues prepare to reopen across Scotland in April, Dominic is also predicting a boom in Scottish hospitality – particularly outdoors – with people unable to travel and looking for fun on their doorstep.
He is aiming to position Valentian Vermouth as the ‘the drink’ of the Scottish and UK summer, hoping outdoor spaces and beer gardens will be awash with Negroni and ‘V&Ts’ made with Valentian.
Dominic added: “People in Scotland and across the UK are desperate to get out and enjoy hospitality venues this summer, and we want them to do so with a Valentian Vermouth in their hand. They may not be able to go abroad, but we can bring a taste of abroad to them.”