Name: Dale McQueen.

Age: 63.

What is your business called?

McQueen Gin.

Where is it based?

Callander, Perthshire.

What does it produce?

Start-to-finish gin. A lot of other brands sub-contract the manufacturing of the liquid itself, the bottling and shipping whereas we do everything from this site.

To whom does it sell?

We sell nationally to Aldi and Morrisons and to Sainsburys and ASDA in Scotland. We also export to Aldi Australia and are about to distribute our products in France, too. Our goal for the latter half of 2021 is to maximise capacity at the distillery so we can supply nationally to supermarkets and all of the major distribution companies that supply on-trade.

We are constantly evolving our offering to meet the demands of gin-lovers.

What is its turnover?

At the end of our last financial year (July 2020) our turnover was £1.5m.

We feel very fortunate to say we haven’t been adversely affected by the coronavirus crisis. We’re lucky to be quite isolated here in Callander and thankfully none of our workforce have been affected by illness. From a business perspective, the societal move towards even more online e-commerce has actually helped us. The convenience of being able to ‘buy now’ at the touch of a button is attractive to our customers in a time where they might not feel comfortable being out and about.

We also took advantage of the time to assess where we were as a business and subsequently put the wheels in motion for our augmented reality labels – our own McQueen app will launch on February 2 and allow drinkers to immerse themselves in the gin experience by pointing their phone at the bottle and watching it come to life via augmented reality technology.

The commercial aid we’ve received from government initiatives such as the UK Government’s furlough scheme and Scottish Enterprise’s Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund Grant programme has been an added boost.

How many employees?

16. We are a proper family-run business. My wife Vicky and I founded the company; Carrie, my eldest daughter is our Finance Director; Vicky’s youngest daughter and her husband, Natalie and Matt are part of our sales team and Michael, Vicky’s youngest son, is one of our distillers.

When was it formed?

The decision to form the business was made during the afternoon of Sunday 19th July 2015, whilst drinking. We registered the company on the 28th July 2015 and launched four world-first gins (Sweet Citrus, Mocha, Smokey Chilli and Chocolate Mint) in June 2016.

Why did you take the plunge?

Around 2011, I became fascinated by distillation and had a go at it myself a few times. The same year I was offered a job in Scotland which meant I could take it a bit easier and we moved back north from Oxfordshire to Callander. I worked for another four years and was then headhunted for a bigger job which, after discussing with Vicky, I didn’t really want.

We made the decision that Sunday afternoon in July 2015 that we would combine our technical and culinary passions and launch a gin distillery. The following Monday I phoned my boss at 9am and within a couple of weeks I had registered the company and had made a financial commitment to the stills.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

By trade I am a mechanical engineer, but I had spent a long time working as a corporate sales manager. While it pays well, you have to run pretty fast to keep up and I was getting tired.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

I withdrew my entire pension fund. It was high-risk – I was turning down a fairly well-paid job and leaving myself without a pension.

What was your biggest break?

By November 2017 we were supplying Aldi Scotland with some product (only around 1,200 bottles at a time) for experimental gin festivals in stores which had been hugely successful.

After doing some themed gins and more and more product for national Aldi gin festivals, they came to me and asked if I was able to produce a colour-changing gin. This was at a meeting on a Tuesday in May 2018. By Wednesday, the ingredients had arrived, and we made the first batch, perfected it by the Thursday and sent it off to Aldi on Friday. It changes colour from blue to pink when tonic is added. They originally asked us for 2,500 bottles a month but after supplying only the first week, we were producing 4,200 bottles a week. It was a massive success in stores and was picked up by the viral video platforms on social media.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

In the end, I would like to sell it for £250,000,000 but not because we want to be fabulously rich. If you’re fortunate enough to become wealthy, and you’re getting on in years like I am, you start to think your money might be better invested elsewhere. We want to do something good and have plans to invest in vertical farming to help feed under nourished children. That’s the legacy we would like to leave.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

The biggest single thing that either could do would be to reduce taxes on alcohol. That would help us to be more profitable and create more jobs.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

I can be quite impatient, but I also demand excellence. I’m slowly learning those two things don’t really go together.

How do you relax?

It’s an ongoing joke at the distillery that I don’t relax. I do try and I get out to play golf and enjoy good food and drink.