Success Story - Toll House Spirits
Angus Based Spirits Company refuses to let lockdown take its Toll!
Toll House Spirits Ltd moved into their new premises in Arbroath just 3 weeks before lockdown but didn’t let that stop them from growing their range of products.
As lockdown came, they swiftly moved their sales focus to online and started a direct to customer doorstep delivery service. They were also one of the first Scottish gin companies to make hand sanitiser to help with the shortage at the start of the pandemic.
“We could have shut our doors but we decided to take on the challenge and trade through the lockdown period” explains Fiona Walsh, one of the directors.
“Within a few days we saw a huge increase in online sales and this has continued throughout lockdown. We are up over 400% which is pretty amazing, given a huge chunk of our customers were forced to close for months”.
New product development
To help drive this impressive growth, the team embarked on some ambitious new product development. “NPD is always a fun challenge but never more so than during a global pandemic when our usual suppliers are closed or offering a minimal service” explains Fiona Walsh. They decided not to let that get in the way and worked round the clock to launch 2 new gins and a range of alcohol based hand sanitiser (made from their waste alcohol).
They have added 2 new gins to their award-winning product range. First up was their new Broughty Ferry Gin, launched to help raise funds for the local foodbank. It was so successful that it is now a permanent addition to their range and will continue to raise funds for the local Broughty Ferry Lifeboat. “We were due to sponsor the Gin Bar at the annual Fisherman’s Beer Festival this year, a huge fundraising event for the lifeboat. When this was canceled, we wanted to do something to support them”. The gin is distilled using local raspberries from Angus based Balhungie Farm.
A few weeks later, they added a full-strength Passion Fruit & Mango Gin to their range. 2 years on from the launch of their top selling Passion Fruit & Mango liqueur (which picked up the silver medal at last year’s Scottish Gin Awards), they wanted to offer a distilled version of the product. “Our liqueurs, by their very nature, have a fair amount of sugar in them so we wanted to offer a product using natural fruit flavours and no added sugar. This is actually quite rare in the popular flavoured gin category – there can be a surprising amount of hidden sugar in them” explains Walsh. “We were keen to let the distillation method and the fruits do the work for us and we are delighted with the end result”
Never one to shy away from experimenting with exciting flavour combinations, the team will continue to develop new products this year. Their popular Passion Fruit & Mango Gin Liqueur picked up the silver medal at last year’s Scottish Gin Awards and has been a big hit with their customers. Fiona says “We launched our gin liqueurs relatively early, in early 2018, and went with some quite bold flavour combinations. Arguably our Passion Fruit & Mango, launched over 2 years ago, was a rather brave move as it was, I believe, one of, if not the first gin liqueur launched using tropical fruits. Thankfully, our consumers embraced it and it has been a top seller within our growing range. We felt people were ready for its full-strength alternative, perhaps looking for less sugar and more of a kick. This product ticks all those boxes, whilst maintaining the exotic fruity flavour we are loved for!”
Supporting the community
It’s certainly been a busy few months for the team. “At the start of the pandemic, we focused our attention towards hand sanisiter and put all our time & efforts into helping our local community, something we continue to do now with our range of sanitiser made from waste alcohol. We also started local doorstep deliveries, and ramped up our UK wide online orders, and realised we had a really engaged consumer base who were looking for new and interesting things to keep them entertained! Now that lockdown is easing, our onsite shop is open and we can offer pre-booked tastings for small groups of family and friends”.
It’s been a busy few months
“It has been an interesting few months, we took ownership of the Redcastle brand in February this year (having been involved in its creation and development from the start), moved into new premises, provided hand sanitiser to the local community, launched 2 new gins and got our retail shop up and running – it’s been a bit of a whirlwind but we wouldn’t have it any other way!”
A family affair
The mother-of-two brings years of experience in the drink’s industry having worked with some of the UK’s major drinks brands and been responsible for large-scale development of supermarket spirits. Her business partners, husband John Walsh, and sister, Angela Jarron, support her in the day to day running of the business. It really is a family affair with the company taking its name from the childhood home of Angie & Fiona’s late mum, Ruth. “Mum grew up in the Taranty Toll House in Trinity, Brechin, and she was enormously proud of her Angus roots. It felt very fitting to name the new company as a little nod to her”.