When your own back story is as interesting as the drink you make, you better believe you’re making it onto the MoM blog. This week Inverroche Gin’s Lorna Scott tells us about her long and varied career, devotion to sustainable processes, and how to be the master of your own destiny. 

Lorna Scott has been an air hostess, a marketing and sales manager of a food service corporation, and even a deputy mayor. At the age of 55, she went back to university to do an executive course on sustainable development, and that path led her to found her own gin brand. It began with a lightbulb moment in a world-renowned archaeological site, the Blombos cave while listening to professor Chris Henshilwood tell the story of how our ancestors survived in this place one-and-a-half millennia ago because of the abundance of the ocean and plant life called ‘fynbos’, unique to this area. 

Scott’s idea was to create a product that could tell a story of a place where humankind has lived for millennia in harmony with nature, using the very botanicals that sustained them. After living in Scotland for 20 years, she returned with her children to her home in Still Bay, South Africa, and began using a baby pot still bought on holiday in Italy to experiment with. Rohan and Lauren (son and daughter) were involved from the inception and helped develop Scott develop her own proprietary process. 

Now the brand produces three distinctive spirits, its Classic Gin, Verdant Gin, and Amber Gin, a process that begins by charging a pot still with a base spirit and then layering the selected botanicals into specially designed steam baskets within the pot still, allowing the gently heated spirit vapour to extract the aromatic oils from the botanicals before collecting in the helm and traveling down the condenser. The result is a subtle, yet complex spirit that we very much enjoy. We’d sure love to pick the brains behind them. Luckily, Scott is right here to tell us more!

Inverroche Gin

Say hello to Lorna Scott!

Master of Malt: What did you set out to do differently with Inverroche?

Lorna Scott: When I created the Inverroche gins, I wanted to create something that was unique yet recognisable through taste and presentation. I deliberately went looking for flavours and aromas that sat in the cosmos of the juniper berries where I clustered and grouped them into various categories. Taste and remarkable flavours have played a huge role in the innovation of the brand, it was through trial and error that the beautiful flavours birthed themselves into what we now know as Inverroche Amber, Verdant, and Classic.

MoM: How did your varied career path impact the formation of your own brand?

LS: I discovered my inner gin-making through a curious path. Following my career journey as the deputy mayor of the Hessequa Local Municipality in the Western Cape in South Africa (a small town I grew up in) in this role, part of my portfolio involved sustainable development. It was during this path that I realised the incredible potential our region had to bring people together and to create awareness around the need to protect the world’s smallest and richest floral kingdom.

Before I knew it, my son and I were experimenting with the botanicals found in the Cape Floral Kingdom, a local biome at the tip of the African continent – it was my love for this part of the world that led to the success of the Inverroche luxury spirit brand. My biggest driver has always been my love for a place I call home, Still Bay (the home of Inverroche).

MoM: How does having a family business affect your approach?

LS: Inverroche is first and foremost a family business, and family to us also means the community of Stilbaai at large. It is our belief that the creation of the gins themselves should have a social impact beyond the simple enjoyment of our products, and create opportunity. It is this belief that has kept us heavily involved and linked to our community – as Inverroche prospers, so should the people of Still Bay. We are extremely proud that just under 70% of our employees are indigenous women from the local area. The knock-on effect is dramatic, it means that at least 45 families are directly sharing in our success!

Inverroche Gin

Inverroche Gin is a reflection of the place it’s made, and its founder

MoM: Tell us about your work in sustainable development and how you applied this to Inverroche.

LS: The brand philosophy is about the connection between our planet, people, place, partnerships, and profits collaboratively working together to achieve real-life and tangible sustainability. We support businesses with the same values towards sustainable development and social upliftment. Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. Every action we take is a link to circular making, our approach is essential for sustainable growth and employment which is key to our brand. 

We have built our own nursery for some of our own Fynbos botanicals in the local Blombos area. That way our production process puts no real pressure on the natural environment as it is all done in a controlled environment. We burn Alien vegetation wood (“Rooikrans” which is on the red list here in South Africa) which is sourced from local area suppliers. We use a wind pump to move some of our water from the borehole on the distillery property for our gin distillation. And just recently we have teamed up with a local brick manufacturer to produce bricks using our water and botanical waste. This is truly innovative, and we are very excited about the opportunities here.

MoM: You’ve spoken before about wanting to inspire other women into drinks, what’s your advice to those who do want to lead their own brand?

LS: Be the master of your own destiny with the freedom to create products you know to fill the demand for something unique and delicious, the authority to ensure that every aspect of your business remains authentic, and the confidence that your personal ethics are reflected in everything you do. And always remember to remain flexible. The goal and vision always remain the same, but change is inevitable therefore be ready to adapt your strategies to get you closer to your vision. I believe when everyone sees and understands your vision, the rest comes naturally!

MoM: What is the ambition with Inverroche now and how has this developed from when you first started?

LS: The vision is to build a global brand that will remain authentic and retain its unique sense of place. We continue to achieve this ambition through our successful partnership with Pernod Ricard in Africa which has accelerated the growth of Inverroche throughout South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. On top of this, it has enabled us to tap into new global third party distributors with the help of Pernod Ricard’s Group resources and data.

Inverroche Gin

Dry Martinis, anyone?

MoM: What’s your go-to Inverroche drink?

LS: Our trio of flavours will always remain my go-to gins, they turn any moment into a special occasion! They are all different, soft and full of complex aromas and flavours. 

There’s the Inverroche Classic – a crisp, refreshing, clear spirit with sweet citrus top notes; Inverroche Verdant – a silky smooth floral spirit with subtle liquorice and almond top notes, infused with late summer blooms which give it a green tinge; and Inverroche Amber – a luscious, full-bodied spirit with a dry spicy finish turned a soft amber colour by the infusion of tannin-rich coastal fynbos. 

But, if I had to choose, it would be Inverroche Verdant in a Dry Martini with a lime zest! Yum!