A SCOTTISH spirit company is celebrating after seeing explosive growth in the whisky and rum sector.

Edinburgh-based bottlers Young Spirits has seen rapid growth since its creation in 2019 even through the Covid pandemic and the energy crisis.

The firm has gone from two to 43 staff in just three years, with the firm trebling in size every 12 months.

Started by Alex Harrison, from Newcastle, and John Ferguson, from Aberdeenshire, the business began bottling alcohol a few months before lockdown hit.

The pair met at a bar in Edinburgh before using Harrison’s previous experience in the whisky industry to start their own venture.

A couple of months in though, lockdown saw their factory close.

But with a little ingenuity they soon turned their Edinburgh facilities into a bottling factory for hand sanitiser.

After the pandemic, the friends, who both live in the capital, persevered and returned back to bottling alcohol, later launching two of their own spirits.

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The Uhuru brand, the business says, has seen record sales for its whisky and rum, with sell-out runs it pins down to “drinkers with a conscience”.

The brand aims to raise awareness of the human impact on the world, with 10% of profits going to wildlife conservation charity Tusk.

Meanwhile, its Ferg & Harris brand focuses on the luxury side of the whisky industry, offering two 12-year-old drams.

Harrison explained to The National how the firm went from making hand sanitiser to bottling spirits for major whisky firms: “We didn't really know what was next going to happen with Covid after the lockdown came in.

“The plan at that moment was just to keep bottling hand sanitizer.”

Increasing its production, the company then moved to a much bigger warehouse, going from 2000 sqft to 12,000.

When the hand sanitiser part of the firm came to an end, Young Spirits employed 15 people before taking on more staff to deal with the backlog of whisky orders.

“Although it was a time of adversity, we kind of just adapted really,” Harrison said.

The entrepreneur said the company continues to experience an “upward trajectory”, adding that growth has trebled year on year.

That comes despite Brexit, Covid and the cost-of-living crisis all putting pressure on many businesses across Scotland.

The company has also been hit by supply chain issues stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with much of their glass coming from the war-torn country.

Brexit was particularly tricky during the earlier stages of the business, Harrison said.

“In the beginning, Brexit had affected us because it became a lot harder to ship to the EU,” he said. “So we were struggling with hauliers and actually exporting goods into the EU.

“We had a situation where we had a load of glass arriving from the EU, it arrived in Dover, and it was on the wrong pallet.

“That was a direct effect of Brexit. And it had to be sent back to the EU and it went to Amsterdam.

“But it was a struggle getting back in Amsterdam so we just had this glass sitting in the channel somewhere.”

Going forward, Harrison said he hoped to grow the firm sustainably and decrease its reliance on the grid, with 30% of the factory’s power needs already coming from solar panels at the site.

“We have many ambitions for the company, obviously wanting to grow it as much as we can, as we can create more jobs for the people of Scotland,” he said.

With two brands of their own and a sell-out run seeing growth surge for the Edinburgh firm, Harrison said to watch out as Young Spirits is “always looking for its next move”.