The couple who moved from Devon to make gin on the Isles of Scilly

PUBLISHED: 11:17 10 August 2020

The sea around Scilly inspired the bottle colour. Photo: Scilly Spirit

The sea around Scilly inspired the bottle colour. Photo: Scilly Spirit

Archant

Scilly Spirit has won awards for its gin and the beautiful bottle that holds it

Arthur and Hilary outside their little granite contemporary distillery. Photo: Scilly SpiritArthur and Hilary outside their little granite contemporary distillery. Photo: Scilly Spirit

At the most south westerly point of the UK, husband and wife team Arthur and Hilary Miller have established their Scilly Spirit Distillery on St Mary’s island, in the enchanting archipelago, the Isles of Scilly.

From their initial idea in the spring of 2017, the couple made their move from Devon to Scilly in 2018 and were finally able to launch their distillery last May.

Impressively, they were receiving awards within weeks of releasing their Island Gin, as their truly striking bottle was awarded Winner – Best Design and Packaging in Spirits for the UK in the Drinks Business Awards on 21 May, 2019.

More awards followed, firstly achieving the highest accolade of Master in the Spirits Business Global Gin Masters Awards in June 2019. They were one of only 14 gins to receive this prestigious award, from the 320 worldwide gins entered. A month later, two medals were awarded by the acclaimed International Wine and Spirits Competition.

The gold medal-winning bottle design. Photo: Scilly SpiritThe gold medal-winning bottle design. Photo: Scilly Spirit

Their awards tally grew this spring, with a gold medal for their bottle design in the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition, as well as a silver medal for the gin.

It all adds up to a truly impressive start within their first 12 months.

Back when they were developing their brand, a significant inspiration for their gin stemmed from a true recorded event, dating back to 18 January, 1665, when a spice trade ship was wrecked off Bishop Rock, which had been carrying peppercorns from Java, and so it is that this is one of the botanicals in their Island Gin.

Another significant inspiration is the majestic lighthouse which now stands proud on Bishop Rock to alert today’s ships, and so they felt it imperative they pay homage to this icon of the Scilly Isles. Hence their bottle shape, with its tall neck standing proud like Bishop Lighthouse, and a deep wooden stopper resembling Bishop’s helicopter landing pad.

They developed their bottle colour to best capture the distinctive, vibrant aqua green so typical of the sea that surrounds the Scilly Isles, and they elected to decorate these bottles – versus the typical labelling option – to best represent the archipelago’s purity, tranquillity and beauty.

They did this by using a solely white (a colour that denotes purity), clean, bold font and striking outline of the vista of the edge of the Western Rocks (again influenced by the view, as one looks out to Bishop Rock lighthouse from St Mary’s island).

They then purposely sited their brand story on both sides of the bottle, to ensure a clear view of the island’s vista through the bottle when held aloft or seen on shelf.

Even their tamper seal was designed with due refence to pilot gig boats, (a key part of Scilly’s heritage and relevant to their initial inspiration, whereby the survivors of the aforementioned shipwreck were rescued by St Mary’s pilot gigs), with a gig’s wooden oar down each side of the bottle neck.

Such attention to detail explains their award success. However, Art and Hils are not ones to sit on such laurels, having crafted their new Navy Strength gin, naming it Atlantic Strength, as a nod to the ocean which surrounds them. This will also be in their distinctive bottle design, this time in the striking azure blue sea colour also visible around the islands, as the couple stay true to their ambition of capturing the essence and beauty of the Scilly Isles through their packaging design.

Equally attentive and dedicated to their craft, Art and Hils fulfil every aspect of the making of their Island Gin, from the small batch distillation runs, to bottling and labelling (tamper seals – each personally signed - plus awards medals), to packing and dispatch.

The latter is no small task either, as everything has to be taken to St Mary’s quay, to load on to the thrice-weekly freight ship to Penzance.

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