Isle of Wight distillery has invested in a six-figure redesign for its Mermaid gin and is gearing up to launch the first malt whisky from the island.

Head distiller, Xavier Baker, told DRN: “the first barrels of our malt whisky – the first ever from the Isle of Wight – were declared legally ‘whisky’ last December.

“It’s a unique recipe using a 9.2% abv un-hopped beer (known as ‘whisky wash’) recipe with barley grown by Island farmers. The whisky wash comes from the oldest brewery on the Island (Goddard’s), then moved to our Distillery for multiple distillations and placed in oak for the initial maturation process. It is now continuing to mature in a combination of bourbon and charred white wine casks at 63.5% abv (cask strength) before it is finished and rested.”

Mermaid gin has also had a major makeover in what Baker said was “a significant investment for a craft distillery like us”.

He added: “It’s more than a start-up would invest, but we already have a proven top quality and award-winning gin, so it was something we felt confident in. That investment has also covered a lot – not just the packaging – including significant sustainability improvements and market research.”

The project aimed to improve shelf standout, with the new-look bottle designed to have a wow factor.

“Signalling ‘premium’ was obviously important – but only because we now have a bottle that properly complements the quality of the gin inside. In short, there’s style to match the substance.”

The producer has plans for a new line to sit alongside the hand-crafted small batch Mermaid Gin, which it will reveal later on this year.

Mermaid uses ten botanical to create the gin, including local ones such as rock samphire, foraged from the Isle of Wight’s cliffs.

The distillery, which also produces a Navy Strength gin, a rum and a vodka, was set up in 2014 by Baker and winemaker Conrad Gauntlett.

It produced 70,000 bottles of gin in 2018 and it is doubling volumes each year.

The gin has a national listing with Marks & Spencer and bottles have an rrp of £45.