How has your first year been since launching in 2020?
2021 was an amazing year for us with our Hench Gin being a Winner in Navy Strength category of The Gin Guide Awards 2021, plus awards for 2 of our gins with the IWSC including the London Dry Trophy 2021, followed by a mention as “Best In The World” by Club Oenologique .
We made the huge decision to move house too. Having had such a successful 2020 our house was slowing but surely being taken over by Lucky Bee Gin, so we sold up and moved from Timperley to the next village of Ashton–On–Mersey in Sale where we now have a huge garage which we have converted in to a packing area for orders and preparation to distil. We also have an out building which is currently being transformed in to our new distillery.
We launched TuttiFrutti Gin in August this year – a celebration of Pride and individuality, with flavour inspiration from one of my favourite sweets as a child that is sadly no longer available. It is a limited edition gin at only 300 bottles and the label design features the colours of the rainbow to symbolise hope amongst diversity, LBGQT and bullying, so what better way to launch our TuttiFrutti citrus-based gin in hoping that every bottle bought and drank brings conversations and encourages talking.
What did you do before starting Lucky Bee Gin Company?
Stephen is a Rugby player. 30 years on the first team and he has a full time job in the finance sector of IT. I’m a Fitness Presenter, lucky enough to have travelled the world as a mentor, tutor, choreographer and presenter. I recently opened my own Fitness Studio in 2017.
What made you decide to create your gin & distillery, and what's the inspiration behind your gin?
We’ve always tried to stay healthy, and alcohol can be high in calories and sugar content and can be chemically enhanced. Gin on the other hand is a superb clean white spirit blended from stunning botanicals and, if chosen correctly, low in calories and pure in nature. For this reason alone we knew exploring Gin would be the most fascinating hobby we could chose to do together. We booked a tour with Manchester Three Rivers Gin, up on arrival there was only one other couple on that tour and coincidently they had the same surname as me. I knew then we were destined to make Gin!
Can you tell us more about the distillery and distillation process?
Our distillery is here at home in the back of the kitchen and garage. We started with a beautiful Copper still from Portugal called “Pat” named after my mum and now we are using a 25L Turbo 500 and column condenser called “Ned” after Stephen's mum. We hope to move up to a 100L Still later this year. We currently use the London Dry method and distil our 13 botanicals after steeping them overnight using Grain Neutral Spirit. We filter our water three times prior to distillation. Our foraged botanicals are – Nettle and Dock Leaf from local woods and down by the canal that runs into Manchester, and Silver Birch from the trees around us here in Priory Woods.
What have been the biggest challenges and achievements so far?
Launching was always planned for 2020 – we didn’t foresee a global pandemic, nor did we let it dampen our desire to launch our gin range. Luckily, we had already obtained all our licenses and attended a crucial course prior to Lockdown, but everything was successfully done during a national Lockdown. There were times we didn’t think we could get stock, communicate with legal teams or ask for help and advice etc etc. But, come October we were ready and just needed a few questions answering. Off we went to Brew School for a day with the amazing Jamie Baxter who taught us so much regarding spirits and distillation – that gave us enough fire in our belly to launch on October 13th, tying in with our 13 brand we launched online!
How would you describe your Lucky Bee Gin in 3 words?
Crisp. Traditional. Memorable.
What's your favourite way to drink your gins?
We love a traditional London Dry Classic with a wedge of either lemon or lime and lots of ice! Stephen loves our Navy Strength Gin 'Hench' neat, again on ice. Personally I like our Raspberry Gin with Elderflower Tonic or a Mediterranean Tonic and red berries.
Which gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!)?
I’m a London Dry lover through and through, currently enjoying Berkshire Botanical Dry Gin, Zymurgorium Original Gin, Manchester Three Rivers Gin, The Edge Gin and Stockport Gin Twist of Lime. Stephen loves his Navy Strength gins and is enjoying Monkey 47 Gin, Peaky Blinders Spiced Gin and Manchester Overboard.
What's next for Lucky Bee - any exciting plans?
We would love to up scale this year to a 100L beautiful still we have seen. We are booked on to “The Gin To My Tonic” show at Manchester Central and it’ll be our first big event having been in Lockdown since we launched. Our Rhubarb Gin will make a come back when it’s grown! And we have another flavour currently in recipe development school which could make an appearance in Summer!
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