An Abertay University graduate who once hired the Spice Girls to launch McLaren’s iconic Formula One racing brand is now changing lanes to break into the Scottish gin market.
High flyer Andrew Mackenzie has always worked in the creative industries, but when he wanted a change of career in 2013 turned to Abertay Division of Food and Drink.
After achieving his Masters in Food and Drink Innovation, the businessman – who launched McLaren’s new brand at the glitzy Alexandra Palace, London in 1997 – was ready to create Dundee’s first gin.
Andrew moved into his premises at Edward Street Mill in 2015 and within the last few weeks has produced his first batch of Verdant Gin, under the company name Verdant Spirits Ltd.
“Through everything I’ve done there’s always been a common theme - using technology for creative ends,” Andrew said.
“Whether that was computer graphics, video production, or Formula One, I suppose there’s always been a nerdy side of me that needed fulfilling somehow.
“With the gin it’s as much about a great product as it is about building a brand, and that’s something I know about.
“My eye got caught by the cocktail industry, so I did a lot of research into why people didn’t feel confident making cocktails at home.
“At the end of that realised it was time to do it.
“Abertay was fantastic. It gave you space to think and reflect and really develop your ideas properly.
“The course was very well supported.”
Earlier this month, Abertay’s Food and Drink courses were rated top in Scotland and 9th in the UK by the Guardian Good University Guide 2018, and last month the University opened new £3.5m science laboratories.
Set to make his mark on the food and drink industry, Andrew said now was a great time to be investing in Dundee.
He added: “I really like the Dundee ethos, the innovation and the internationality of the city.
“With all the changes happening in Dundee it’s becoming such a vibrant city to live and work in, so it seemed the very place to do it.
“I think Abertay has played a big part in that success, particularly in the creative industries.”
Andrew is targeting sales of around 20,000 bottles of Verdant Gin in his first year.
For more information on how your business can benefit from Abertay’s cutting edge new Food Science facilities, visit https://www.foodinnovation.abertay.ac.uk/