The Romance of Distilling in the Scottish Highlands

Badachro Distillery was much dreamed and spoken of for years and years before it became a reality. In fact… once upon a time, in a remote hamlet on the north west coast of the Scottish Highlands, in the real Wester Ross, Gordon & Vanessa met in the Badachro Inn and married less than twelve weeks later.

Madness, they all said, but over twenty years later, they live in the house on the hill, overlooking Badachro bay, with their kids, dogs, cat and two horses, entertaining b&b guests and concocting licit spirits with the greatest deliciousness being Badachro Gin.

Vanessa had trained in hospitality in an up-market hotel in Munich and Gordon had worked for an advertising agency and life together, at first in the Middle East, was exciting and successful. When a move from Jeddah, to Dubai and then to London was followed by babies, a lust to leave the rat-race grew. Oh to have a wee business up in the Highlands and live a life of freedom & simplicity. So, following a few years in the Scottish capital Edinburgh, escape to Badachro became a reality.

Gordon & Vanessa Quinn

Moving to Badachro

Life in a caravan whilst building their house, with a six year old, a toddler, a grumpy cat and a puppy was as mad as it sounds. But then… everything fell into place. The house, Aird Hill, was complete and ‘normal’ family life began. No offices to drive to, no corporate bosses to pander to, no traffic jams. Just peaceful, quiet life, gazing over pristine mountains, clean waters and that extraordinarily clear, star-studded night sky.

A returning topic of conversation was brewing beer or distilling spirits. Brewing beer seemed like the logical choice given the law, Vanessa’s Bavarian heritage and a ready market. But distilling is, after all, a Highland tradition and the easiest route was never going to be their choice. So, Gordon devoured more (up to date) books about distilling whilst Vanessa researched like a crazy thing on the internet while Gordon completed formal training in distilling.

A dream comes together

Vanessa’s previous work in horticulture led her to study botanicals and Gordon got some work experience in a Perthshire distillery. And then, in June 2017, after (very) much effort navigating the bureaucracy, Badachro Distillery was born. All so poetic given that they first met, drinking gin (let’s say), in the wonderful pub which they look out over on the other side of Badachro bay. So, happily, and certainly for ever, but not yet after, Badachro Distillery, in all its artisan style minutia, feeds the family, the animals and Gordon & Vanessa’s dream of the future.

Our beautiful copper still

Our copper still, Delilah, is not only beautiful (in the eyes of this beholder) but as a mature girl who knows exactly what she’s doing, is extremely well practised in her field of evaporation and condensation.

Hand beaten in Portugal back in the mists of time, there are two stories as to how she got her name. One tells of a time when she was one half of a pair and her partner was named Samson with whom she worked well for a score of years, but when working in Perthshire more recently, became separated as technology took effect. The other story favours the Highland tradition, whereby she was named after the daughter of her first master distiller’s eldest daughter. As with boats, it’s not considered wise practice to change a still’s name!

Our still Delilah