Case Study: Matugga Distillers

This case study is brought to you in association with Burness Paull.


What has changed in your sector since lockdown?

Restrictions and lockdowns in the wake of COVID-19 have resulted in acute societal upheaval and economic disruption for the UK drinks trade. The closure of bars, restaurants and other indoor hospitality venues led to an immediate loss of critical bricks-and-mortar alcohol sales. Other routes to markets for alcohol producers are trade and consumers events. The calendar of spring and summer food and drinks festivals, spirits fairs and trade shows collapsed. Most have been postponed until 2021, while others have successfully migrated online. Fundamentally, consumers transitioned their on-premise spending to at-home consumption. Shoppers moved online generating a huge surge in the e-commerce alcohol sector and creating new digital opportunities for consumers, drinks producers and retailers alike (e.g., on-demand alcohol delivery services). The new home-based lifestyle has seen consumers enjoying more ready-to-drink cocktails and experimenting at home with making cocktails.

What have you done in response?

In response to the appeal to distilleries to assist the country’s shortage of hand sanitiser, my husband Paul (head distiller) and I quickly switched the production focus at our family-owned rum distillery in Livingston. We have spent much of lockdown making hand sanitiser, adhering to the WHO-approved formulation. We launched a Crowdfunder campaign which helped us to donate over 1,000 litres of sanitiser to our local healthcare providers, frontline services and community workers as well as selling critical supplies to local businesses. In time, the conventional suppliers of sanitiser were able to boost their production levels and we reverted to prioritising our conventional business of distilling artisan rum. With our beloved distillery tours and tasting events on hold until the autumn, we turned to offering virtual tasting events. Pivoting the experience online has been an ideal way of remaining in social contact with rum novices and connoisseurs who wish to explore our rum-making craft and enjoy our spirits. We recently released Liv Rum, an innovative new artisan rum collection that we had hoped to launch before the coronavirus outbreak. As a companion brand for Matugga Rum - our award-winning cask-aged rum range - the new range consists of white and spiced rums and flavoured rum liqueurs. The range has diversified our offering and will help us to cultivate a new generation of rum drinker. Our rums were also showcased at the inaugural virtual Scottish Rum Festival on Saturday 25th July 2020. As a business we’ve worked hard to maintain our brand communications over the past few months, in order to continue to reinforce our proposition and communicate our value. We strategically sustained our marketing investment in the hope that it would support post-pandemic growth.

What have been the consequences of your change in behaviour/operations?

As an early-stage and ambitious business, we have worked hard to not lose sight of the bigger picture and our strategic goals. It has been a time for revisiting our strategy to build residual value and long-term gain. We have been thinking strategically about how we can build our new and existing brands, broaden our services and deepen our differentiation and competitiveness (e.g. through NPD and accelerating our aged stock) over the next 12 months and beyond. We are also thinking about how we can best leverage the new digital and e-commerce opportunities for sales, promotions and engagement.

What are your predictions for the short term in your sector?

Health and hygiene concerns will continue to see consumers spending more time at home and preference for in-home eating and drinking is likely to hold. As we make slow, steady steps out of lockdown and more pubs, restaurants and hospitality venues begin their recovery journeys after such a long closure, there’s the hope that those bricks-and-mortar trade sales will experience a ‘mini boom.’

What are the changes that will ‘stick’ once out of lockdown and affect your sector for the longer term?

We are at the very beginning of our understanding about the impact of COVID-19. Social distancing has fundamentally changed our shopping and consumption behaviours, and has driven our home-based lifestyles. We can expect the practical and psychological effects of the pandemic to linger for some time. Periodic epidemic waves and intermittent social distancing may return. In addition, as the economic reality of the impending recession looms we’ll likely see more cautious consumer spending. This is without doubt the most uncertain period we’ve known as business owners with no end in sight for the flux and unpredictability within our sector. However, it remains that we are hardwired to survive, aren’t we?


Read more of the Burness Paull Tales from the Larder series here.

Case Study: Brew Toon

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

Brew Toon are a microbrewery & Tap Room established in 2017 and based in the nautical town of Peterhead. We brew exciting & innovative craft beers, and pride ourselves on creating unique, quality beers which we sell throughout the UK.

How has the Coronavirus crisis impacted your business so far?

COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the way we run our business. Our Tap Room & brewery tour experience has been forced to close, likewise a large proportion of our beer sales to our on-trade customers (bars, festivals etc.) has been heavily restricted since the start of the pandemic. This has forced us to completely adapt our business & product offerings, to ensure that we survive and continue to operate as a viable local business. Having put a lot of focus and investment at growing our on-trade market which had reached around 70% of our overall sales, we have had to completely flip the way we work, switching our focus to off-trade opportunities.

How has your business needed to evolve and change to operate in this environment?

Through a lot of hard work and support from the local community, we have managed to adapt really well to the current situation, and this has helped us maintain the same level of growth that we were achieving prior to COVID-19. We have worked tirelessly to develop a good e-commerce platform and new level of stock which has enabled us to find new routes to market and grow our off-trade sales. We have had to innovate and develop new products and packaging to enable us to operate effectively during these restrictions. This has led us to launching new beers and packaging formats such as mini-kegs and growlers so that customers could enjoy fresh draught beer at home. We’ve also had to invest in new durable packaging to ensure orders arrived safely with customers and not to restrict our e-commerce market to local sales only.

Has it presented opportunities which you would not otherwise have considered?

Certainly on packaging it has presented some opportunities for us to explore new formats; mini-kegs for example which we may not have been as viable had lockdown restrictions not been in place. E-commerce had always been an area we wanted to grow sales, but this has perhaps forced us to act quicker with investment here.

Finally, how are you celebrating this Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

To celebrate Scotland F&D Fortnight, we will be enjoying as much of the quality local produce as possible. We are fortunate in the NE that there are vast amounts of quality Scottish producers and so we’ll use this opportunity to make an even greater effort to support these businesses.

Scotch lamb and seasonal vegetables with Jak O'Donnell

Join Jak O'Donnell this Saturday afternoon on our Instagram (@scotfooddrink) live at 1pm to create a Scotch Lamb Dukkah.

Come prepared with the following...


  • 4 x 200g individual portions of square cut Scotch lamb rump
  • 4 tbsp Summer Harvest rapeseed oil
  • 250g selection of Scottish greens
  • 250g potatoes
  • 1 ltr hot lamb stock

For the dukkah

  • 400g chopped skinned roasted hazelnuts
  • 300g sesame seeds, toasted
  • 6 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 6 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 4 tbsp cracked pepper
  • 2 tbsp Blackthorn Scottish sea salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper


  • 1 x sharp knife
  • 1 x heavy-based frying pan that can go from stove to oven
  • 1 oven tray
  • Mortar & pestle or a small blender
  • Tongs
  • 2 x pots
  • Plates to serve

Recipe: Gautier Cartron, Garden Tipple Cocktail

The Torridon’s Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight themed cocktail, created by the 1887 restaurant’s manager, Gautier Cartron. Using traditionally Scottish ingredients that have been sourced from the hotel’s two-acre Kitchen Garden, alongside its own gin, Arcturus, the Garden Tipple offers a sweet, herbal hit.



  • 30ml Arcturus gin
  • 15 ml cherry brandy
  • 1 branch garden rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon garden raspberry jam
  • 20ml Herbal tea (Aching muscles)
  • Juice of ½ lemon



If you have a cocktail shaker, shake all the ingredients together for 30 seconds, then strain over a martini glass.

If you don't have a shaker, you can double, triple or increase the quantity and put everything together to macerate for four hours.

Recipe: Paul Green, The Torridon - Scrabster Monkfish, crushed potatoes, sprouting broccoli and hollandaise

Scrabster Monkfish, crushed potatoes, sprouting broccoli and hollandaise


  • 1 monkfish tail, cleaned and cut into 100-130g portions
  • A handful of new potatoes (we use a variety called Douglas Fir)
  • A bunch of sprouting broccoli
  • A handful of herbs (chervil, parsley, dill)
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 250g lukewarm melted butter
  • 2 tbsp vinegar (we use a seaweed vinegar from Orkney)



Boil the potatoes in salted water. Once cooked, drain and cool slightly then peel the skins.

Crush with a fork and add the zest of the lemon and some of the juice to taste. You can also add a little of the olive oil too.

Make the hollandaise sauce by combining the vinegar and egg yolks in a bowl and whisking over a bain-marie until it thickens.

Gently trickle in the butter, careful not to go too quick or the sauce will split. If too thick add a teaspoon of hot water, season and keep in a warm (but not too warm) place.

When ready to serve, take your portions of fish from the fridge 5-10 minutes before being read to serve to take the chill off.

Roast in a pan with a little oil, and finish with some butter, before resting the fish in a warm place whilst you finish the garnish.

Fry the broccoli until it gets a little colour and smells of a BBQ.

Warm the potatoes in a pan adding some more lemon juice and olive oil then finish with the chopped herbs.

Plate up the garnish then slice the monkfish. Season with a little sea salt.

Case Study: Bells Food Group

This case study is brought to you in association with Burness Paull.


What has changed in your sector since lockdown?

Despite everyone having the usual business continuity plans in place no-one saw it coming or was truly prepared for what happened next. Obviously retail businesses were hit hard, and also those in our sector whose core customers were in hospitality and food service saw 70-80% of their business disappear overnight. That was hugely concerning so the immediate issue was financial stability, particularly among smaller local operators. They really needed support and furlough certainly helped with that to a degree, but many had to quickly change their business model to keep cash coming in. That included finding ways to sell their goods online and set up delivery networks to enable customers to order from home. It’s certainly led to some rapid changes because people have had to be creative to stay in business.

What impact has lockdown had on your business?

We’d been having a pretty positive year then the coronavirus hit and lockdown was imposed. When it happened the initial worries for us included the health and wellbeing of our staff, would we be able to keep production going, and what impact would it have on demand. As it happens the appetite for our products went up sharply due to combination of factors. We sell a large number of our products direct to supermarkets and grocery stores, so they remained open and people were still able to buy our brands. We are also one of the biggest producers of pastry for other businesses like local butchers and bakers, as well as home baking. With people cooking at home more demand for pastry went through the roof for a spell, to the point where we were at max production capacity. Our phone was ringing off the hook with people looking to buy more, and our trading was 300% up on certain products like our famous Bells puff pasty. It’s been a very unpredictable period but we’ve been very fortunate in that it’s played to our strengths as a business.

What have you done in response?

As you’d expect in a food production business we take hygiene and health and safety extremely seriously. It is the number one priority at an operational level in our day-to-day business. From that point of view our staff and systems were very well set up to cope as we already had the highest standard of PPE and sanitisation measures in place. We’re always quite obsessive about handwashing, so that didn’t change! However, social distancing was an issue when it came to packing and distribution. We had to put lot of new extra measures in place and extended shifts, recruited extra staff, and focused on selected core products in order to keep service levels up. There was also a realisation that as a key food supplier we had to rise to the challenge at a time when there was talk of shortages on shelves. We have many long and loyal servers at the company who supported each other, and thanks to their hard work the business has done well and we’ve been able to reward everyone with a Covid-19 bonus for their efforts.

What have been the consequences of your change in behaviour/operations?

In many ways we are a traditional family-owned company, however we consistently invest in our people, innovation and technology. The value of that has really shown in the way we were able to continue production and maintain our exceptionally high standards of service to customers. Proactive, regular and honest communications with key suppliers and customers at the outset has also helped cement relationships and overcome many of the unforeseen problems that arose during lockdown. We also recently received an unannounced inspection from HSE and I’m glad to say passed with flying colours, so that was a great vindication of our approach. I think overall we've struck the right balance between reactive measures and sensible long-term planning.

What are your predictions for the short term in your sector?

There is no doubt many challenges remain, but there is also optimism and people have to eat so demand is still there. We’re about to go into autumn and winter which is generally a strong season for a business like ours as people want hot food to warm them up. Christmas and New Year is obviously a key trading period for us, so we have that to look forward to and planning is already well underway for it. One issue that has reared its head again is Brexit. It’s not gone away and presents another big test for a battered sector. If tariffs on ingredients like flour come in to play that could really push food prices up and will affect everyone from producer to consumer.

What are the changes that will ‘stick’ once out of lockdown and affect your sector for the longer term?

An openness to innovation and adaptation. The pace of it has been upped in response to the pandemic but I think that will continue. The success of online sales and direct home deliveries, stricter behaviour around hygiene and sanitisation awareness, plus diversification of some business to broaden their offering are all positives in the long-term. Remote working will be also be permanent feature in many more businesses. That’s no bad thing, but it’s my firm belief that a food business like ours needs a degree of face-to-face interaction to generate spontaneous creativity and inspiration. Lots of great ideas for tasty new products come from informal chats with people across the business so I don't want us to miss out on that.

What can the industry learn from all of this?

In many ways it has brought people together. The support and guidance offered to members of Scottish Bakers via the likes of chief executive Alasdair Smith has been fantastic in keeping everyone informed and on top of the issues. An appreciation of what suppliers have done to help keep the industry moving has also been evident, without them none of us would have been able to make anything so they deserve a huge amount of credit. We all have to look after our own businesses, but a genuinely collegiate approach across the industry is good for everyone.


Read more of the Burness Paull Tales from the Larder series here.

Iconic Ice Cream Brand Celebrates Scottish Food and Drink with Chance to Win a Year’s Supply

Luxury Scottish ice cream maker Equi’s ice cream has joined forces with Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight to celebrate local produce and give one lucky customer the chance to win a year’s supply of free ice cream.

Customers who buy any product from the Equi’s range between the 15th September until the 31st of October will be in with a chance of winning a tub of the award-winning ice cream every month for a whole year.

Provenance is key for the multi-award-winning ice cream maker with luxurious Scottish flavours including Scottish Tablet, Isle of Skye Sea Salt and Caramel and Double Cream Vanilla to name a few.

Equi’s are known for creating irresistible artisan ice cream using high-quality ingredients from local Scottish dairy farms, and secret family recipes that have been passed down through four generations.

Locally-sourced smooth butter tablet, creamy panna cotta and Scottish whole milk create the indulgent Scottish tablet flavour, while the classic Double Cream Vanilla is made with lashings of local-sourced whole milk and from double from Scottish dairy farms and indulgent natural bourbon vanilla from Madagascar.

To be in with a chance of winning, all customers have to do is upload a picture of them enjoying any Equis product to their social media channels and tag @EquisIceCream on Facebook or Instagram along with the #Iloveequisicecream

Chris Law, Head of Sales & Marketing at Equi’s Ice Cream:

“We’ve teamed up with the Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight to celebrate and recognise those who have not only helped fed those in need during these difficult times but also kept us inspired with their foodie ideas, skills and expertise. We’re proud to be a Scottish brand and to be able to work with local farmers and producers to create a product which we believe showcases the best that Scotland has to offer.” 

For more information on Equi’s Ice Cream visit their website

Equi’s competition runs until 31st October and one lucky customer will win their favourite ice cream for the full year.

Case Study: The Ethical Dairy

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

We produce traditional cheeses and luxury ice cream made with organic milk from our own dairy herd, where we keep the calves with their mothers to suckle. Our farm, based in Dumfries & Galloway, is the first commercial dairy in the UK to be following the cow with calf method, demonstrating that cow with calf dairy farming is viable and sustainable at scale. Our ethical dairy model is based around treating the animals, the land, our environment and the people who work here with respect and kindness.

How has the Coronavirus crisis impacted your business so far?

We have been selling online direct to customers for a couple of years, but before lockdown that was only a small percentage of the sales – most of the cheese went to restaurants and speciality cheesemongers, and we had also started selling via Abel & Cole in February 2020.

When lockdown, hit our hospitality and wholesale sales collapsed, so we immediately launched a digital marketing campaign to increase our direct to consumer sales. The response was phenomenal, and we have been managing a low stock situation since early May as a result of the huge demand for home delivery, with our cheese stocks recovering only in the past few weeks.

One of the big challenges at the height of lockdown was balancing demand from our direct customers with demand from Able & Cole, who also saw demand soar – we didn’t want to let anyone down, but cheese takes a long time to mature (3-9 months for most of our cheeses) so we had to be very open with people about the stock challenges we were facing.

How has your business needed to evolve and change to operate in this environment?

One of the things we’ve done while we’ve been low in our own stock is to showcase other cheesemakers and other local producers, with bundles like ‘A Cheesy Night In’ collaborating with a local preserve producer, and Scottish Cheese Selections which showcased other Scottish cheesemakers.

Finally, how are you celebrating this Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

We are running two hands-on food tourism experiences during Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, and these events will run weekly in October too.  On Wednesdays, in ‘All About Ice Cream’, participants will experience every aspect of the ice cream journey including a tour of the farm to see where the cows are milked, tasting ice cream flavours and then creating their own flavour in an ice cream making workshop.  On Thursdays our ‘Cheese Making Workshop’ is a full-day event where people will learn the art of cheese making, working hands-on to make two different cheeses, a soft cheese and a pressed cheese to mature at home. The event also includes a cheese tasting session, a farm tour and lunch.

Salted cod fish pie with Wendy Barrie, Scottish Food Guide

Join Wendy Barrie LIVE on Instagram on Friday 18th September where she’ll take you through making a Sheltland air dried salt cod bake.

This cook-a-long will begin at 1pm live on our Instagram account – @scotfooddrink

Come prepared with the below…


  • 1 x 80g packet Shetland Air Dried Salt Cod
  • 300ml double cream and 300ml whole milk, combined
  • 1 leek, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Generous twist of freshly milled black pepper
  • 100g butter
  • 6 medium potatoes. Ideally Shetland Black potatoes when available
  • Garden chives to garnish


  • Large bowl
  • Sharp knife
  • Large pan
  • Slotted spoon
  • Ovenware dish

Seasonal venison carpaccio with Chris Rowley, Ballintaggart

Head Chef and Owner of Ballintaggart, Chris Rowley, will be creating a roe deer carpaccio, blue murder, pickled shallot and nasturtium aioli dish on Thursday morning.

This cook-a-long will begin at 11am live on Ballintaggart's Instagram - @ballintaggart

Get ready with the following…


  • 300g roe deer loin
  • 150g Blue Murder, cut into small cubes
  • Small handful of nasturtium leaves to garnish
  • Sea salt and black pepper

For the pickled shallot

  • 300ml white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp or coriander or fennel seeds
  • 200ml water
  • 100g sugar
  • 5 banana shallots

For the nasturtium aioli

  • 2 egg yolks
  • A splash of white wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp of Dijon mustard
  • 300ml nasturtium oil
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper


  • Chopping board
  • Sharp knife
  • Cling film
  • Frying pan
  • Saucepan
  • Sieve
  • Blender
  • Piping bag (not essential)