What did you do before establishing East Coast Distillery?
It began where all good ideas do – over a cup of tea and biscuits at the end of a hard day in the office. Whilst we like our day jobs, we started thinking what else we could do. It had to be something we would all be excited about. An opportunity to be creative, to give something back to the local area and a chance to meet new people. After a very fleeting mention of becoming goat farmers, we had our eureka moment – gin!
We didn’t have money to throw away on bad decisions so we started planning in 2018. Since then we have worked to learn our craft, understand the processes and the equipment involved and developed the recipe for our first gin. Getting from there to launching our first gin was a rollercoaster journey and along the way we’ve benefited from endless support and encouragement from the local community for which we’re extremely grateful.
What's the inspiration behind your gin?
We are located in Landermere on the beautiful Walton Backwaters, the tidal estuarine saltmarsh between Harwich and Walton, which is different every time you visit. Calm and tranquil, idyllic for kayaking or swimming one moment, then wild and foreboding the next as the grey sky blurs with the grey waters. Regardless of the weather the area is always packed with wading birds and an abundance of plant and animal life. It’s here that we’re fortunate to have been able to set up East Coast Distillery, our home, just a ten-minute walk up the lane to the Quay.
Our brand and our gin are a true celebration of the coast, the nautical naval heritage of the area and the vast range of wonderful local flora and fauna on our doorstep which provide us with regular inspiration for our spirits.
Can you tell us more about the distillery?
Our distillery is located on the site of a former dairy farm and the building we use was once the milking parlour. It is a perfect size for our distillery, allowing us the split the space into a dedicated production area as well as a shop and full bar where visitors can call in for a drink or a coffee. We make we can by hand ourselves from our own premises and are responsible for every stage of the process…including adding the distinctive flag neck labels (that always face east).
What can visitors expect and experience?
Visitors to the distillery can expect passion and enthusiasm. We love what we do and we are always very proud to show people where we produce our spirts and talk them through the process we use to make, bottle and sell Tide’s Fortune. Anybody is welcome to pop down for a look round. They can meet Monty our still and we can show them the process from start to finish.
Whether people are looking for something for a special occasion, a team building activity or just something different to do with friends. We run regular gin tasting and gin making events, cocktail evenings, gin afternoon teas and cinema events.
What have been the biggest challenges and achievements so far?
Our biggest challenge is time. For now, we all still work full time, so the biggest achievement for us is the way we have worked together and supported each other to get to this point. We have had so much help along the way from friends, family and other local businesses but we also have to say a great big thank you to all our customers.
Launching our Essex Dry Gin in lockdown needed us to change our approach. With the hospitality sector hit so hard by the pandemic we focused on local advertising, social media and web sales. This has been really successful for us and had the added benefit of bringing us closer to our customers. In the run up to Christmas 2020 we offered a click and collect service from the distillery and were able to talk to people about our gin, face to face. Even if they couldn’t enter the building at that stage.
How would you describe your gins in 3 words?
Smooth, Complex, Authentic
What's your favourite way to drink your gin?
We love to drink Tide’s Fortune Gin neat. Have it simply served over a little ice with a sliver of lemon peel. The ice elevates the piquancy of the Sea Buckthorn allowing that citrus hit to linger a little longer before leaving a warming smokiness on the palate. If you’re a G&T lover start with a dash of good quality tonic and build your way up until you reach that perfect point.
What gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!)?
We all have our favourite or go to gin. For Nicole and Simon, it has to be The Botanist Gin which was one of the first gins to get us excited about the opportunities for flavour and botanical combinations. Ben’s favourite is Caorunn Gin with a slice of sharp apple as garnish and Lucy particularly likes Purple Ram Gin made by our friends and colleagues at the Yorkshire Dales Distillery who helped us so much as we set out on our journey.
What's next for you and East Coast Distillery - any exciting plans?
We have been working on a second gin for release in the summer of 2021. The recipe has taken us time to perfect and again utilises locally sourced and foraged botanicals. Without giving too much away, it is a little fruitier, slightly sweeter but still a dry gin, not flavoured or coloured, and a brilliant companion to our Essex Dry Gin.
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