A New Way to find your favourite Wine and Tapas

Eligant is wine and tapas discovery business that introducing customers to exclusive wines and tapas through its online shop and club at http://www.eligant.club. The business was started by Gisely Dias as she wanted to share her passion for delicious wine, tapas and the Mediterranean with the world. The business selects, sources and handpicks exclusive Mediterranean wines and Spanish artisan tapas from amazing people and local businesses.

Currently, there products include wines from Spain, Portugal, Italy and France, which are only available in the UK through Eligant. They also sell artisan tapas such as Iberian ham, manchego cheese and much more.

Eligant also hosts wine tasting sessions (currently held online) and sell celebration packs, which are the perfect gift and worry free box for those speecial moments with friends and family.

I caught up with Gisely to talk about this new venture

https://eligant.club/shop/wines/

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What makes Eligant different from other wine subscriptions?

Transparency. With Eligant you can read more than just a label. Our customers have the opportunity
to learn all about the product before committing to buy as we have collected and curated the
relevant information about our products: flavours & aromas, wine profile, food pairing suggestions
and handling, leaving no doubts about what to expect. You can imagine how a wine will taste just by
browsing on our website.

Discovery. Those who subscribe to the club will receive a handpicked selection of wines and tapas every month. Customers enjoy variety and expand their horizon and knowledge of original and local Mediterranean products.

Exclusivity. Most of the wines and tapas in our online club and shop can only be bought through us. Eligant club connects the British people with local Mediterranean producers awaking memories and dreams of a perfect holiday. We have personally visited the wineries and tasted hundreds of wines and have partnered with an incredible wine expert with 15+ years’ experience to select the best products.

Knowledge. On our website, you can learn about the main grapes in the Mediterranean, the regions and how to pair wine with food. Soon we will be sharing yummy recipes that go along perfectly with our wines.

https://eligant.club/shop/wines/

I understand you launched the business a few months ago, during the pandemic. How was that?

We launched Eligant shop 3 weeks ago, and plan to launch Eligant club in May 2021.

I believe when life gives you grapes, make wine J. We all have the power to react positively to adversity. I am passionate about Spain and used to go there on holiday twice a year. During lockdown we all felt stuck, and I’ve decided to do something to bring that Mediterranean feeling and experience to the UK.

I wanted to create something special by offering high quality products made with passion by local and in the UK unknown producers. British people ought to have great Mediterranean products in the comfort of their home with or without travel restrictions.

What are you enjoying the most in your entrepreneurial journey?

The passion that I have for Eligant gives me the energy to work incredible hard. The power to move forward and the inspiration to do something special only happens when you genuinely believe in what you are doing. Wine is my fuel.

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When I embrace a challenge, I always give my best. Prior to launching Eligant, I carried out some market research and received positive feedback on the products, online shop. The same has occurred since Eligant.club went live and customers started buying wine and tapas. Receiving such positive feedback from customers gives me a boost of motivation. Their excitement and joy when they open an Eligant box and taste the products fuels my passion every time.

As a Financial Controller I was previously only focused on my professional niche. As an entrepreneur I became curious about everything; now I want to learn more and more about the entrepreneurial world every single day and connect with people to understand their journey.  I really enjoy this curiosity and ability to solve problems and quickly move forward. Every day is a unique day.

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How do you source the wine and tapas sold on your website?

This is actually the really fun part of my job!

We visited the producers in Spain back in July 2020 and learned about their story, their products, their methods, and traditions. We have tasted over 120 of wines and selected a range from sparkling to fortified wines. Currently we offer 50+ wines on our website.

We have also partnered with two exclusive wine importers and carefully selected a range of Mediterranean wines. Like us they have visited the wineries and picked the best selection. However, the main focus lies on wines and tapas that can only be sourced through Eligant.club.

What challenges have you faced so far and how have you dealt with them?

As an entrepreneur every day brings a new challenge. There is always something to figure out or to fix.

But my biggest challenge at the moment is brand awareness. We launched 3 weeks ago and so far brand awareness has been through word of mouth, from people who have enjoyed our products and recommended us to their friends and family. This has been great so far but there is still more to be done.

Now a suitable marketing strategy and realisation is crucial: How to spread the word without spending a fortune is a challenge for a self-funded start-up. I now need to find a way to communicate my passion and make people curious to try and fail in love with the experience as much as I have.

Enjoy a Mediterranean experience in the comfort of your home when you purchase wines and tapas from https://eligant.club/shop/wines/ ! Order now and get 15% discount on all products using the code WELCOME. Customers also get free delivery for orders over £60!

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Matugga Distillers: Scottish rum with an African Soul

Rum distillery isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Scotland, and that’s a big part of why husband and wife team, Paul and Jacine Rutasikwa established their Livingston based distillery, Matugga Rum in 2018. The company produces a multi award winning range of distinctive, artisan rums from scratch using 100% copper pot distillation. Matugga’s products are distributed across the UK and EU from its family owned distillery in Livingston, Scotland. “This is a unique undertaking for the UK, as currently most companies involved in the rum business usually import it from the Caribbean or South America”, explains Jacine Rutasikwa.

“We have chosen the very hard undertaking of making it from scratch in a much colder climate and all the challenges that that brings”, says Jacine Rutasikwa

The company’s portfolio of rums is a clever fusion of the founders’ heritage – Paul was born in Uganda and Jacine has proud Jamaican roots. To date, Matugga distillers produce a range of rum styles, such as white rum, spiced rum and cask aged golden dark rum. These are all sold directly to the public via their online store. The couple also hold rum tastings, and tours of their distillery in Livingston, where you can enjoy some of their produce while learning about the rum making process.

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How did it start?

The idea for Matugga rum took seed in 2014, when the couple were due to spend Christmas with Paul’s family in Uganda. They had just had their first child and Jacine, who worked in corporate marketing was looking for ways to achieve a better work -life balance. “I wanted to spend more time with my daughter when she was still young” she recalls. “I felt bad going back to work when she was nine months old and putting her into nursery”. The couple spent 3 months in Uganda and “by the end of the three months we decided to start a business”, says Jacine.

That business was making rum. “I married into a beautiful Ugandan family and spent a lot of time in Uganda where I had seen lots of sugar cane”.”I was asking for rum and I was never able to get any. I found this very confusing and it got us thinking”. ’Why is there no rum coming out of Uganda, when there is sugar cane here?’ she says. “When we started doing our research, we couldn’t see any spirits that were linked to Africa on the world stage, and certainly not in the rum category. There was also a lack of representation in terms of black owners.  It became our mission to showcase Africa in the world of fine spirits but at the same time, we also filled a number of voids.”

“We had the idea to launch Matugga not having any experience in the sector”

Together the couple began to learn more about rum, while pondering how to make their own East African variety. “We had the idea to launch Matugga not having any experience in the sector” says Jacine, “We saw a gap in the market and went for it”. The rum represents an interesting duality between the UK and Africa, which no other brand was doing at the time. “The one thing that is spiced across East Africa is tea,” says Paul. “It doesn’t matter where you go, you’ll find masala chai in all homes and restaurants around East Africa”, he added. “We therefore selected five spices from this – ginger, cloves, vanilla, cardamom and cinnamon – plus the tea to go into our Matugga Spiced rum.” The couple also had the innovative idea for Matugga Golden rum. A smokey rum, which combines the flavours of whisky and rum, appealing to fans of both spirits.

“Our business went from selling mostly over weekends to an exporting business in less than 6 months”

They launched in August 2015, producing their flagship Matugga Golden and Spiced rums through a contracted distillery in London. “I was in charge of the tasting side of things and Jacine led the brand and design development” Paul reflected, “Between us we managed to put out a really good product which we launched not knowing how it would be received”. Matugga rum was showcased six months later at the London rum festival, where its bold and distinctive taste lead to the couple securing their first export contract with a French distributor. This early success gave Jacine and Paul the validation to consider running this business full time and on a bigger scale.

“Our business went from selling mostly over weekends to an exporting business in less than 6 months. It was at that point that we realised that we had something serious that needed our full devotion” Paul explained.

Read similar stories:

Matugga rum

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Moving to Scotland:

“Paul being the engineer, I kept telling him that he’d make a great head distiller”, says Jacine. Already a self-confessed ‘sprits geek’, Paul was able to hold his own when discussing rum production and flavours with rum authorities but felt he needed a formal education to solidify his knowledge. “When we looked around at where I could get that education, it was only Scotland”, says Paul. They moved their family to Scotland, where Paul began to study for an MSc in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

“We didn’t know anyone and the only certainty we had was Paul’s place at university and the vision of what we wanted to create” explains Jacine. “Moving to Scotland was a huge change and dislocation between us and our big close nit families, but we could see that we could bring this vision to life in Scotland”.

visit matuggarum.com

[Read: Female restaurateur, from working in a bookshop to owning a restaurant and property portfolio]

Matugga rum distillery:

Following Paul’s completion of his degree, the couple secured a facility in Livingston where they started production of Matugga rum in 2018, making it the first rum distillery in central Scotland. This was no mean feat, given the challenge of running a distillery and the lengthy process of obtaining all the required licenses. With Paul taking the reigns as master distiller and Jacine managing the marketing and branding of the products, this formidable team managed to persevere in order to achieve their dream.

One of the other challenges that they have faced over time, is having to change the reputation of rum from a commodity drink to something that can be as complex and classy as cognac or wine. The company achieves this with their inventive flavours. Recently they have introduced a new brand called ‘Liv’, a white rum who’s name means ‘life and living’ in the Nordic languages. “It’s very much our Scotland forward brand and highlights the natural produce of Scotland”, explained Jacine. It’s clear to see that Matugga is helping to create an identity around Scottish rum, therefore bringing leadership to the rum category in Scotland.

The ongoing situation with the global pandemic presents a new and challenging trading landscape for Matugga rum. At the beginning of the pandemic the company pivoted to making hand sanitizer to support the Scottish health Services. However, with the business environment continuing to change for Jacine and Paul, this has meant adapting to the situation by providing more digital experiences and focusing on the ecommerce side of the business. “In Scotland we are part of a network of distillers, which has been really helpful as we have learnt to adapt and bounce back as a community”, says Jacine.

Not ones to be defeated, the couple plans to continue pushing boundaries and innovating. They plan to strengthen the brand’s ties to East Africa over the next 3 years, by growing their own sugar cane in Uganda. This will be turned into molasses, which will then be transported to Scotland and used in the production of Matugga rum. Paul explained that “this will link Matugga and Liv to ‘Teebwa’, which means soil and climate of Uganda”

Visit matuggarum.com