A West Dorset start up company producing spirits with a twist has been named as a finalist for a regional award.

Modern Art Distillery (M.A.D) has been announced as a finalist in the south west final of the StartUp Awards for the Food & Drink and Rural categories.

The company, which was founded by Caroline Harrison and Catharine Russell in 2023, creates premium craft distilled spirits showcasing artists, particularly new and emerging artists, in a unique way.

Based out of Lyme Regis, the pair sell their unique recipe gins, rums and vodkas alongside local and emerging artists artwork, which features on their bottles, and prints of the designs are also sold through their online shop.

Catharine said: “We’re thrilled to have been shortlisted for these awards – there is a lot of blood, sweat and tears involved in starting up a new company and these nominations help make the last year worthwhile.

“We feel the awards recognise the originality of our idea to commission emerging artists to design the artwork for our spirits bottle labels, and reaching the finals is a real accolade for us.

“We have ambitious plans for the future growth of the company and being based in west Dorset - with its thriving food and drink industry and a vibrant arts sector - is ideal for us, and we hope as our business develops we will make our mark on the local economy.”

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Gin, Vodka and Rum with unique local artist designs by Modern Art Distillery Gin, Vodka and Rum with unique local artist designs by Modern Art Distillery (Image: Modern Art Distillery)

The cohort of finalists will be considered for the regional prizes by a panel of judges with experience founding or supporting entrepreneurial ventures.

The winners from each region will then be invited to the first UK final taking place at Ideas Fest, the Glastonbury for Business festival in Tring, Hertfordshire on September 12.

The company has also been shortlisted in the Contemporary Gift section of the Gift of the Year Awards due to the 'funky, design-led gifts with a quirky modern feel' of their uniquely designed bottles.

They will learn whether it has won at an awards ceremony in London on May 17.

Partner Catharine said: “We’re delighted to have been chosen as a finalist for this prestigious award.

"It confirms to us that our idea to support and promote emerging artists as an integral part of our spirits concept has been recognised as relevant, not only to the drinks market but also to the gin market. It sets us apart from conventional spirits brands.”

Alongside the bottles, prints of the artwork are also available in A4, A3 and A2 size – including limited edition signed prints.

M.A.D currently produces three flavoured spirits – Blueberry & Bergamot Gin, Strawberry & Honey Spiced Rum and Watermelon & Thyme Vodka (all 41% ABV), plus a London Dry Gin (40% ABV).

The company markets to on and off trade customers predominantly in the South West, and will have a presence at local spring and summer events, including  Mapperton House Food & Drink Market, Axe Vale Show,  and the Melplash Show.