Andy and Zoe Arnold-Bennett run shed1gin, Cumbria’s smallest gin distillery, out of their own shed. Here they discuss how they keep up with increasing competition and give advice to people looking to do the same.
Hi shed1! Firstly, how long have you been running your distillery? What inspired you to start?
We launched in October, 2016. We were looking for a creative business that would enable Andy to spend more time at home after 20+ years of living out of a suitcase as a professional actor. Zoe introduced Andy to different kinds of gins, including her homemade sloe, damson & bramble gins. This piqued his interest and he started experimenting on a small scale.
That sounds great! So what do you guys enjoy most about creating your gin?
Developing the different gins and seeing how different techniques and botanicals work together. And, of course, getting together with friends and neighbours for “quality control” and feedback on new flavours!
I can imagine there are a few perks to running your own distillery! Small distilleries have become increasingly popular in the UK in recent years, what would you say sets yours aside from others?
Our size! The shed is seven square foot and we produce thirty-six 50cl bottles per distil. So, when we say we are a micro-distillery, we really are! We are also committed to recyclable materials and simple packaging. We run, and are hoping to expand, a bottle return scheme which includes donations to charity. As we use fresh zest in our gin, but not the fruit, Zoe turns it into a delicious gin marmalade. We try not to waste anything! Also, it’s the way we make our gins; a mixture of compounding and classically distilling in order to create our bold flavours.
Very admirable! Here at Canopy Press, it’s great for us to see people thinking about the environment while doing something they love! How do you keep up with the increasing competition among small distilleries?
We don’t see others as our competition, we think there is room for everyone who is making a quality product. We are a local producer and we believe in what we are doing and it seems others do, too. We’ve also gained two Great Taste Awards, one in 2017 for our Cuckold’s Revenge (2-star: Outstanding) gin and one, this year, for our limited edition Shed Loads of Love (1-star: Simply Delicious). As well as those awards, we were finalists in this year’s Cumbria Life Best Drinks Producer. We continue to develop within our area by getting out and meeting consumers at markets, shows, tastings, etc., and we’ve expanded our product line to include gin chocolate and gin marmalade.
Gin marmalade sounds delicious! Final question, what is one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to open their own distillery?
There is a world of advice at your fingertips – use it! Do your research. You can start by checking out our “So, you want to set up a gin distillery” on our website!
Find out more about shed1distillery and discover their product range on their website.