Growing with GinCalum & Rebecca Napier, Wee Hemp Spirits.
Published: 29th August 2019
Our Growing with Gin editorial feature series looks at the growing number of Scottish Gin makers who have diversified their business or changed their career path to seek new opportunities in the wonderful world of Scottish Gin. Next in the series we meet Calum and Rebecca Napier, the co-founders of The Wee Hemp Company and Wee Hemp Spirits, to discover more about their wonderful products, determined attitude, unique set of challenges and bumpy journey into Scottish Gin and Scottish spirits.
What’s your name and what’s your background?
Wee are Calum and Rebecca Napier from Aberdeen and Wee are founders of the multi-award winning Wee Hemp Company who specialise in premium quality CBD (cannabidiol) products derived from hemp. CBD is one of around 113 compounds in the cannabis plant with a vast array of health and wellness properties. Both of us have a background in Oil & Gas, typical for Aberdonians, and Wee were both made redundant in one of the many downturns the industry has faced over the years.
What inspired you to make Scottish Gin?
Rebecca, unfortunately, has two chronic conditions. Wee wanted to create a spirit that she could enjoy but also offer the drinker an experience that is totally new. Wee are the premier CBD infused spirit company in the UK. Getting the conversation started into why Wee are not using more hemp is just one of our goals, that and marrying our cannabinoid rich hemp with amazing local ingredients is a unique and unforgettable experience.
Hemp is so beneficial, not just for our outer environment, but our inner environment too. Imagine knowing you are making a difference to the planet by merely enjoying a hemp infused drink? That would be something, right? The more hemp and CBD infused spirits Wee can offer people to drink, the more hemp gets planted, the cleaner our environment will be… it could literally change the world. Who wouldn’t want to help save the planet with a delicious Canna’B tipple??
How has your business, The Wee Hemp Company, influenced your Scottish Gin?
Massively!! The Wee Hemp Company has been a huge influence and infusing our Canna’B Gin (and Rum) with CBD was a very natural path to take. Wee know the benefits of CBD on the body all so well, infusing our spirits was an inspired decision by Rebecca.
What are some of the challenges you encountered whilst establishing your business?
Wee have the usual business challenges and more due to the CBD industry being in its infancy, not to mention the stigma connected to the plant. Each week there is a new obstacle to overcome but Wee pull together and face them head on.
In our first year of being in business these were the challenges Wee faced:
‘Rebranding’ hemp is an up-hill battle Wee face on a daily basis. Wee never let this deter us however, all this resistance makes us more unified and shows Wee are on the right path. Facing all these battles and still winning awards shows this. In fact, it makes us stronger and actually better at business, given these very unique challenges. Wee have faced all these obstacles in the first year… that’s an accelerated crash course in how to run a business, but Wee see every obstacle as a chance to learn and get better. At this stage, Wee welcome obstacles, as Wee have done before (with Rebecca’s illnesses), Wee always turn a negative into a positive.
Other than gin, what other products does The Wee Hemp Company offer?
The Wee Hemp Company’s premium quality CBD products are based on a 24-hour concept, everything a CBD user could need to get through the next 24 hours. Wee have a range of CBD Drops, Capsules, E-liquids, Skin Cream and a Balm specifically designed for muscles and joints.
Wee Hemp Spirits has a Full Spectrum CBD infused Gin and Rum, these are the UK’s first CBD infused spirits with a world’s first ageing technique. Our Canna’B Rum is aged in charred hemp stalks giving it a light smokiness and golden colour, Wee are very proud of this uniquely unique Rum.
Why is CBD important?
CBD is massively important for our body’s Endocannabinoid System. This is one of the biggest systems in the mammalian body responsible for things like sleep cycles, anxiety, inflammation, pain management and much more. CBD helps with so much as Wee produce our own cannabinoids called endocannbinoids, (endo means ‘within’). When you cannot produce enough endocannabinoids or you cannot regulate them appropriately, a whole host of ailments can occur. By using CBD, which is a phytocannabinoid (phyto means ‘plant’), you can help boost your encocannabinoid system.
Wee believe that it’s highly beneficial to use a Full Spectrum CBD product rather than a CBD isolate product. Full Spectrum means that all other cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes (the essential oil of the hemp plant) are present in the final product whereas an isolated CBD product only contains CBD.
Do you think more could be done to educate the public on CBD based products?
In a word…Yes!!
There still remains confusion and a stigma that Wee try on a daily basis to break down. Hemp is cannabis but a completely different strain and cannabinoid profile compared to “street cannabis”.
Street cannabis is high in THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound responsible for the “high” and contains little to trace amounts of CBD due to the way it’s bred. In short, the more THC in the plant, the less room for CBD. Industrial Hemp, or it’s real name, Cannabis Sativa L, is essentially the opposite, it contains massive amounts of CBD but only trace amounts of THC. Hemp also needs no pesticides, herbicides, insecticides or any other dangerous contaminants to grow, making it extremely clean to consume (provided the farmer doesn’t spray his crops). It only takes 100-120 days to full maturity and while growing, it sucks pollution out the air and toxins out the soil, cleaning up the whole environment. It’s a fantastic crop for farmers looking to replace nutrients back into their soil and has literally thousands of uses from paper, to biofuel, to clothing and hempcrete, an eco-friendly building material stronger and lighter than concrete. Hemp is also carbon negative meaning it offsets greenhouse gas pollution. What an amazing plant!!
Wee have also had the pleasure of spending some time interviewing a brilliant Professor called Professor Roger Pertwee. Professor Pertwee works at The Medical Institute of Science in Aberdeen. He is the co-chairman of the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and co-founder of the International Cannabinoid Research Society. For the last few years he has been campaigning to get cannabis medicines and the endocannabinoid system added to the curriculum so our young doctors can learn about this subject, after all these students are the future of our NHS. To this day he has been unsuccessful, which is hugely frustrating.
More must be done.
How important do you think Scottish Gin is as part of Scotland’s bigger food and drink offering?
Scotland is one of the world’s leading producers of gin and accounts for around 70% of the UK’s gin production so from a financial perspective for our economy, gin brings a lot to the Scotland food and drink table. Our vast array of gins shows the world just how creative our Wee nation can be and helps put a spotlight on what Wee have to offer, there’s much more to Scottish spirits than whisky.
What do you think makes Scotland’s food & drink special?
Amazing ingredients, diversity and creativity. Scotland has some of the best raw ingredients on our doorstep and Wee use them in so many different ways, what more could you ask for!!
What do you think makes Scottish Gin ‘Scottish’?
This is a hard one to pinpoint but our crystal-clear water plays a huge role in this. Scotland has some of the most bioavailable water in the world and Wee believe it’s the perfect carrier for our water soluble CBD in our spirits, after all Wee are all made of over 70% water.
What other food & drink producers in Scotland do you admire?
It’s fantastic as there really is so much to choose from. Some that spring to mind are:
Rebecca’s family are from Shetland so Wee love sampling some of the amazing food and drink produce coming from the Scottish islands.
Where would you like to see your business in 10 years time?
Wee are currently in the middle of a move to the Aberdeenshire countryside to expand our business and hopefully our family. Wee would love to grow our own hemp, build a distillery to distil our Canna’B spirits and also extract our own CBD from organically grown Scottish hemp. Wee want to take the whole operation in-house and bring the massive potential of hemp to our beautiful country.
Wee believe this ancient plant will play a massive part in the future of our planet’s health and our own.
You can learn more about Wee Hemp Spirits here.