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Aberdeenshire man turns love of whisky into successful business… from his garden shed!

Peter Dignan brews in his shed (Derek Ironside / Newsline Media)
Peter Dignan brews in his shed (Derek Ironside / Newsline Media)

A MAN has turned his love of whisky into a successful business by producing a renowned family recipe for a unique liqueur – from his garden shed.

Peter Dignan, 38, has made bottles of his popular bramble berry drink for visitors in his home every Christmas since the secret list of ingredients was passed down from relatives.

The Haroosh liqueur has been enjoyed in his family for generations since his great-grandmother Margaret Thomson created it but it wasn’t until a friend suggested he produce it commercially in 2014 that it was turned into a business venture.

Oil worker Peter insulated the garden shed at his house in Aboyne in Royal Deeside and released his first 300 bottles in the shops just before Christmas – selling his whole stock within a week.

Now the business has turned into such a success with high demand from specialist shops that he has just signed up to a lease on a warehouse to turn into a distillery.

And with all his licences now in place, he also plans to make his own whisky and gin.

Peter, who grew up in Westhill, in Aberdeenshire, also has ambitious plans to create the first absinthe produced in Scotland at the distillery near Aboyne.

Peter Dignan (Derek Ironside / Newsline Media)

Peter said: “We have made Haroosh for years. The recipe was passed down to my dad and then on to me. Every time I made up a batch in Kilner jars in my kitchen everyone really enjoyed drinking it, so we eventually wondered if we could sell it.

“We started making it in the shed. I kitted it out last summer, buying in steeping tanks and a decent filtration system. We launched the drink in 2016 and that was the catalyst for starting up a distillery.”

Peter knew it would be too much to expand his business on his own so has partnered up with his friend Richard Pierce who used his project engineering experience to help set up Deeside Distillery.

They now plan to produce gin and absinthe using botanicals, such as heather, nettles and bog myrtle, and also open up a gin school.

Peter said: “We will be teaching people about the history of gin and absinthe, the tradition of botanicals and which flavours work best with each other.”

Peter’s wife Anna first tasted the family liqueur when she visited his parents. The mother-of-two said: “I was never a whisky fan but I loved Haroosh. I like its sweetness. I am proud that only local berries and Royal Deeside Honey are used.

“I’m proud of the time and effort Peter and Richard have put in.”