Blackthorn Scottish Sea Salt launched in April 2020 at the peak of the global pandemic. This mineral rich salt is made in an apparently unorthodox way, yet it is also sustainable, not to mention totally delicious! We wanted to know more about this unusual business so we asked the founders to answer 6 questions and here’s what they had to say…
1. How/why and when did you start your business?
Gregorie, our Master Salter and founder, is a true salt guru. His family have been involved in the salt industry since the 1800s, and, although working with almost every variety of salt in a whole realm of different fields, the family had never actually made any. Gregorie made it his mission to bring salt-making back to the Scottish West Coast, where historically there had been lots of thriving local salt boiling enterprises. Being a salt expert, he wanted to create the best possible salt - taste, texture, integrity, method, sustainability, terroir and ethos all play an essential part of what is encompassed by every single box of Blackthorn.
After visiting a graduation tower in Poland around 12 years ago, Gregorie was provided with the inspiration he needed: this fantastically weird and wonderful, now defunct method could be revived, brought into the 21st Century and would, he hoped, work with sea water from Scotland. After 12 painstaking years of careful research and experiments, Blackthorn was finally launched… in April 2020, right in the peak of the Pandemic…
There were no major launch parties, press gatherings, fantastic tasting ceremonies with world famous chefs or such like. Not being front line doctors, nurses or carers, we decided that we would instead dedicate the whole of our first batch (which was sitting and waiting, ready) to causes that were contributing to the fight against the pandemic instead. This felt right and good, although slightly bonkers!
2. What advice would you give to someone starting a new business in the sector?
We would suggest not to start anything unless you are truly passionate about it.
We have been so grateful to buyers and customers this year - the reception that Blackthorn has had by Michelin starred chefs, Deli owners and home foodies alike is really humbling. Within the feedback our customers (especially those who have been able to visit Blackthorn HQ) point to the confidence they have in us, in our salt knowledge and in our dedication to making sure that Blackthorn really is the best we can be. People are often surprised at how vast and varied the saline world is and often comment that our passion is self-evident. These are the rewards we have enjoyed this year and we relish them, but if you are looking for a fast financial reward, without an innate passion for what you produce, then we would suggest that this sector isn’t for you.
3. What motivates you?
Being in the 5th generation of a family company, Gregorie has an in-built motivation to do his predecessors proud and not let the future down – future generations of his family, but also in terms of environmental responsibility. We are incredibly proud that Blackhorn uses use approximately 85% less power to draw salt crystals from seawater than conventional methods and, on top of that, our packaging is all made and designed with environment and customer at the forefront. Gregorie is also incredibly passionate about food and is a perfectionist when it comes to salt, so Blackthorn is where all of these combine: family, food, past, present and future.
4. How do you think the food & drinks industry could improve?
Environmentally, the list is endless where things could be improved. Businesses could work together more cohesively when it comes to waste, packaging, and logistics. Whether this is spearheaded by the Government or led by business collaboration and mutual support, we will see, but we have been investigating some of these issues further with local initiatives.
Apprenticeships and education is another area which is perhaps letting us down in Scotland. That we export much of what is fantastic about Scotland’s larder is amazing, but it is also sad that at home so many of us do not want to eat these things or appreciate them.
5. Is there an individual or organisation, current or in the past, who inspires you?
Gregorie is inspired by his closest friends and family every day.
6. Apart from Greencity, which other three or more people, living or deceased, would you invite to make a dinner party entertaining?
Lyra and Pan from His Dark Materials - an amazing, brave girl from another world who, accompanied by her talking daemon who changes shape, would be a pretty astonishing dinner guest.
Dionysis / Bacchus – for his knowledge and appreciation of food.
Gregorie would also invite his brother and his brother’s hero as this would make his dreams come true more than anything ever would for Gregorie – which would also be incredibly entertaining.
If you’d like any more information about Blackthorn Salt, you can check out their website at blackthornsalt.co.uk or contact the Greencity sales team who are always happy to help.