I’ve always had an interest in the alcohol market. It all really kicked off with a Farnham College business studies project in 2005/6 I think. You could choose your own topic and I ended up on “The feasibility of setting up an English Vineyard”. Meant of course an obligatory day trip to Denbie’s in Dorking. Research had begun many years before…
Around 2012 I was looking into contract beer production. Wild Child Wheat beer was the product. That’s when I first met friendly manager Jim at Winerack. Although I think we both realised fairly quickly it wasn’t going to happen. Even after a rebrand to Friday Feeling.
After facing depression for over a decade, I decided to write the business plan for Bramley-Lloyd over the Christmas Break 2018. To my surprise over the next two month’s it passed through the government’s Start-Up Loans system.
It was in this time, I managed to distil my gin at another distillery. Which was a pleasant experience as whilst I was there, I was in the presence of Whitley Neill and the City of London Distilleries Master Distillers.
However, my premises fell through and I lost my opportunity. Towards the middle of the year I was able to borrow my parents’ garage and as I had all the paperwork ready, sent off for my rectifiers and compounders licenses (distiller and blender).
The next month’s seemed like a blur, even though I had prepared for over a year! Once I had adjusted the recipe, that I had created earlier in the year at another distillery, to my equipment, I then needed an Alcohol Wholesale License.
This let me stock my local The Bear & Ragged Staff, who had been willing to try it and supportive enough to stock me and write the letter of intent I needed to get the wholesale license.
Things progressed at a deliberately slow rate. I’ve struggled to promote myself due to the health issues. However, at one stage I was in 5 different pubs and bars.
As Covid-19 hit, I was lucky enough to have got my personal license application in time. This allowed me to pick up with direct sales, to all you lovely and supportive people.
The unusual thing about myself: I have no sense of smell. This meant no distiller or vineyard would ever take me on. I tried. But this just means, everything I have created, I have done myself. Some of which isn’t half bad. 😉 Heathland actually came in the top 15-20% of international gin brands in one of the industry awards, with particular comments on the pleasant aromas and taste.
When you think of micro-distillers, you may have romanticised notions of copper, but my entire set up is made of glass. I believe this helps to produce a smoother finish. Below is a 2 mins timelapse of about a 1 3/4 hour still run if you feel like watching it. 🙂