Séamus Ó Baoighill and Seumas Gorman only launched 57 Skye Earth and Sea gin in November of last year, but that hasn’t stopped them for receiving global recognition.

Their product picked up a Gold Outstanding Award at the prestigious International Wine and Spirit competition in March.

Both men grew up in Skye and wanted a name and a product that reflected their heritage – the name is inspired by the MacDonald clan whose motto is “on sea and on land”.

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In an exclusive interview with The National, the two founders spoke about why it was so important to be based in Skye, what gin lovers can expect from the drink and what their hopes are for the future.

How did this come about?

Although he works in the distilling industry these days, Baoighill is also a talented Gaelic musician.

He spent most of his youth honing his skills on both the fiddle and the bagpipes and reached the final of BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Musician of the Year competition.

However, after returning home from studying at Queen’s University in Belfast, he wanted a reason to stay in Skye.

“When I got back, I knew Seumas (below) was really interested in distilling so we had this idea to start creating the gin from the bits that we had.

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“We wanted to combine our knowledge of distilling and retail outlets. More importantly it gave us both the ability to stay on Skye and operate something from here.”

Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength and the new distillery and visitor centre based in Broadford, at the foot of Beinn na Caillich, opened in 2022.

Gorman, who works as head distiller, explained that his passion for distilling came from his years in the hospitality industry.

He explained: “I spent a fair bit of time working in different bars and restaurants so that helped develop my interest.

"There was a fair bit of development of our recipe. That was maybe a year-long process and that led us to where we are now with our shop and distillery.”

A proud heritage

The pair are proud of where they come from and that’s reflected in everything about the gin from its packaging to its taste.

If you look closely at the bottle (below), you can just about make out the topography of Skye while the clan that inspired the name is based in the area.

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As well as this, Gorman explains that they try to source as many of their ingredients as possible from Skye itself.

“We tried to make quite a classic gin which is strong in juniper. We want to get as much from Skye as possible so we have rowanberries and yarrow as well as local seaweeds.”

Baoighill explains that it is quite a small team, with everyone pitching in on the different elements.

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“Seumas’s mum comes into help”, he says, laughing.

“We’ve been limited in our growth in that sense because we are trying to do everything ourselves, making it and bottling it here on Skye.

“Looking to the future, we need to find a way to be able to offer accommodation in order to get the staff here.”

What’s next?

After finding their feet, Baoighill and Gorman have high hopes for the future as they look to expand into whisky distilling.

“I think ultimately the plan was always whisky. That’s not to say we don’t like working on gin because Skye is a good place to have our distillery”, Gorman says.

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“We were learning as we went along as well. I don’t come from a background of 10 years working in a big distillery or anything like that.

“We want to use our skills to move into whisky and we’re hoping to do it by the end of the year.”