On a warm summer evening almost half a century ago a small boy was led by his grandfather’s hand up through the orchard, through the long grass to a very old shed of rust and wriggly tin. This shed was an Aladdin’s cave of old car parts, tools and bits of wood from which small children were usually prohibited. The reason for this prohibition had little to do with the health and safety of any grandchildren and far more to do with the illicit nature of the produce to be found deep within. For there at the back, in collection of buckets, jars and steel containers, was a sizable quantity of beer, cider and gin. Unbeknown to anybody other than his very closest circle Grandad Willy had been utilising the bounty of the local countryside, nearby farms and his own orchard for many years and was generally believed to have brewed them pretty close to perfection.
Forty five years later Neil’s wife introduced him to the delights of a Gin and Tonic in the garden. Throughout the rest of those long Northumberland summer evenings a G&T became something of a regular treat once their youngest son was away to bed. During that summer Neil’s mind was cast way back to that old wriggly tin shed where he tried to remember the botanicals and ingredients Grandad Willy had utilised so successfully. After much pondering, taste testing and arduous research a rich, smooth flavour began to emerge and was enjoyed by friends and family until a chance remark led to creation of the Northumberland Spirit Company and Alnwick Gin.
HOW TO ACCIDENTALLY LAUNCH A GIN
The Northumberland Spirit Company was created by Neil in June 2016. A the time Neil was looking for a job as he was nearing the end of the contract he was working on. By late October 2016 all the necessary licences and permissions had been granted; a trial batch had been successfully produced, sampled and approved by friends and neighbours. Alnwick Gin was ready to roll.
Late one Friday evening news broke on a personal Facebook page that a new product (Alnwick Gin) was being launched and that the first batch of 200 bottles was now available for sale. The response was incredible. With almost 80 responses that first evening a website and shop were quickly created resulting in the entire batch being sold by Monday morning. They were off to a flying start although it turned out that somebody had forgotten just one small detail, batch 001 hadn’t yet been made.
It quickly became apparent that Neil’s shed was wholly inadequate for even small scale production so within the first couple of weeks two garages were commandeered by the Company, scrubbed, painted and readied for manufacture. That first winter saw sales take off beyond all their hopes, although manufacturing in a garage with no heating or running water proved somewhat challenging at times. One garage quickly became two, which was soon followed by the addition of a large tent and finally an even larger shed before the plainly obvious became impossible to ignore.
July 2017 saw us move just outside Alnwick to Rock where the luxury of running water, heating, internet and telephones coupled with the rolling countryside and a lovely view of the North East coastline is in stark contrast to our earlier homes but which gives us a fantastic base from which to take Alnwick Gin to the next level.
OUR NEW STILL
Following a couple of hiccups and delays, as of September 2019 our new still is now fully operational, producing some of the finest gin on the market.
It is with many thanks to the LEADER Programme which supported Northumberland Spirit Company Ltd in the purchase and installation of the new gin still and ancillary equipment.
WE WON AN AWARD
In March 2018 we were shocked and delighted to win a Silver Medal at the first London Spirit Competition. This is a fantastic seal of approval from the global spirits industry. In order to receive this distinction we needed to score highly in three different categories: Quality, Value and Packaging. The London Spirits Competition set itself out to reward and celebrate the spirits that spirit drinkers wanted to buy. Naturally we're all pretty chuffed about this.