An entrepreneur is proving he has the bottle to go it alone with the launch of a new
micro-distillery in County Durham.

Scott Wilson-Laing, was inspired to launch Hetton-based WL Distillery after
developing a passion for sampling rare, local delicacies whilst volunteering as an
archaeologist overseas.

Having spent three years studying and traveling in destinations such as Italy
(Pompeii), Cyprus, Turkey and Germany, Scott returned to the North East.
After years working in a number of 9am-5pm roles, he soon yearned for a change
and decided to take the brave step of setting up his own business, with the goal of
fusing his love for the North East with his long-held passion for producing and
sampling niche local drinks.

“Wherever you go, there always seems to be a regional drink or spirit that represents
that area and it’s nice to be able to experience the local delicacies whenever you
visit somewhere new, it was what I loved most about being in different countries,” he
said.

“Now that I look back, I’ve always had an interest in how things are made.

“When I was in Malta, they made their own spirits from cactus plants. In Cyprus, I
lived in a village where the local priest grew his own olives and made his own spirits
and I loved watching people make it.

“A Spanish wine reminds you of a holiday or a Raki that reminds you of Turkey, I
want to create something that bottles up and gives people a real flavour of the North
East, something that is reminiscent and evocative. That’s what inspired me to launch
WL Distillery.”

Initially producing a signature gin – which is set to be released early next year –
WL’s products will take inspiration from the regional landscape, using fresh, premium
ingredients such as blackberries, pears and apples to produce handmade, small-
batch gin.

“The first flavour we’re going to produce is inspired by the Great British garden,”
Scott added.

“My grandfather has grown his own fruit and veg in his garden for years and there
are three generations of my family who’ve all grown up in his company, first my
Mam, then me, and now my daughter, and I wanted to capture this whole family
tradition in our first product.

“Apples, pears, blackberries, raspberries – I want to produce something reminiscent
of growing up in the North of England.

“There will be many others who spent their childhoods picking fruit and producing
cakes, pies, even wines with the fruits of their labour and I want to produce a spirit
which carries on that tradition, giving people a real sample of what the North East is
all about.”

Scott has been supported throughout his start-up journey by the North East Business
& Innovation Centre (BIC), working with experienced business advisor Ron
Anderson and attending a series of workshops and masterclasses on everything
from ‘financial planning’ to ‘an introduction to Instagram marketing’.
Ron Anderson, business adviser, said: “It’s been a real pleasure working with Scott
and supporting him on his journey so far.

“The passion he has for not only the region’s culture, but also for distilling, is clear for
anyone to see and we wish him all the best for the future.”

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