A couple who started lockdown facing redundancy and money worries are now producing around 600 bottles of rum a month – at their very own distillery.
Former pilot Matt Hunt, 34, and wife Becky, 31, who had trained as a teacher, were terrified of the financial impact of the pandemic with two young children to look after.
Dad-of-two Matt was made redundant from his job at FlyBe in March last year while Becky had been a stay-at-home mum and felt "underqualified" for applications.
Facing an uncertain future, they decided to start a rum distillery, pouring in £15,000 of their savings.
The result, Old Mother Hunt, is now being sold at farm shops and online.
The couple learned how to distill by reading books, watching programs, and speaking to other distilleries before launching in November 2020.
On a day-to-day basis, Matt is the chief distiller and has designed the logo and bottle designs, while Becky handles the business, social media, marketing, and sales side of the company.
At current capacity, the pair can produce around 500-600 bottles a month and sell to local shops, farm shops, and online retailers.
Becky said: "Like many others in lockdown, we struggled to adapt to a different life and had to find a way to carry on for us and our two kids.
“Matt lost his job as a captain with Flybe in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic with no warning or furlough.
"Over the next few months, as the pandemic developed, we realised that the airline sector was shutting down and the chances of Matt flying again for a career were pretty low.
“We wanted to create a concern that would be future-proof.
"We invested about £15,000 and did it all ourselves, Matt designed the logo and labels and set up the website.
"Most of the money went into the equipment for the rum."
Running a distillery has been a "massive learning curve" for Matt and Becky, who moved to Strathaven, South Lanarkshire from Nottingham in 2017, as neither has run their own business before.
Currently the couple compound and rectify pure white rum to produce the flavours, before re-distilling the alcohol on a still made by Matt himself producing five Old Mother Hunt flavoured rums: Smokey Oak, Number Seven, Stiff Neck, Signature, and Winter Spiced.
Matt said: "My life couldn’t be more different than it was before. Working together with Becky is something we’d always discussed but never got around to.
“We wanted to create an authentic, fresh spirit without any of the pretentiousness that can come with the alcohol industry.
“Creating an entire brand by ourselves has been a challenge, to put it mildly - we’ve been through a pretty steep learning curve in every aspect, but we’re loving every minute of it.
“Happily, the rum’s popularity has risen as quickly as the need to create it, and we’re working hard to ensure we have enough stock to meet demands.”
Home-schooling their two children, aged four and five, while starting up the company was another challenge, which Becky describes as "incredibly stressful" but also positive.
She said: "I want my kids to see you can have a company and a family.
"It's also so nice that they now have a closer relationship with their father, with him working from home and not going on flights.
"It was a huge financial, mental, and emotional blow when he lost his job at FlyBe, as it is unlikely he will ever fly again.
"So it was a nice silver lining that he could get closer to the kids."