Having quit a job in finance to follow his passion for working in the drinks industry, Andrew Clark-Hutchison has opened Dark Art Distillery in Kirkcudbright in Dumfries and Galloway, where his family have lived for generations. Clark-Hutchison has also bottled his first batch of gin, Sky Garden, inspired by the exceptional clear evening skies of nearby Galloway Forest Park.
A classic dry gin, Sky Garden contains 18 different botanicals, including lavender and calamint, along with some which only blossom at night time and are grown in a local nursery one mile from the distillery. Gin production is steered by distiller Fiona Williamson, formerly of Raasay Distillery, using a gin still christened ‘Peggy’ after Clark-Hutchison’s grandmother, who hailed from Kirkcudbright.
In 2018, Andrew Clark-Hutchison won creative and research agency Guy & Co’s inaugural national Creation Award, which supported him as an entrepreneur starting his own distillery with branding and packaging, PR support and financial advice. With additional funding from the Dumfries & Galloway LEADER programme, building work on the distillery began during the latter part of 2019.
Dark Art Distillery and visitor centre have been built in two former classrooms of the old Johnston School in Kirkcudbright, which closed in 2010, and are decorated with artworks by Scottish and London-based artists. The distillery’s neighbours in the schoolhouse redevelopment include the Dark Space Planetarium and the Wee Pottery Studio, in keeping with Kirkcudbright’s reputation as The Artist’s Town.
Commenting on opening his distillery in the town, Clark-Hutchison said: “I believe we can attract many new visitors to Kirkcudbright and the wider Dumfries and Galloway region, which remains something of a hidden gem that many people have yet to discover.” The distillery has recruited two members of staff to host tours and gin tastings, and it is hoped that up to five new jobs will be created within a year of opening.
Sky Garden Gin (42% ABV) is available to buy at the distillery or from its website. The RRP is £36.