Nantwich Gin - Meet the Makers
What did you do before creating your Nantwich Gin?
Creating a local gin had always been a bit of a dream for us as a family, but commitments delayed the start-up until 2020. It wasn’t until I graduated from University that we began the huge amount of research into creating a gin brand, and the idea for Cheshire Botanicals and Nantwich Gin really started to grow. Cheshire Botanicals is a family run business with three founders and directors: Paul, Deb and myself, Holly Challinor. I studied visual communications and professional writing courses at University, whilst also working in retail environments. Paul holds a lifetime of horticultural experience centred mainly around vertical farming, bringing vast knowledge of botanicals and all things botany. Deb is a full-time Matron at a local hospital, but still gave up a lot of her free time (and still devotes so much today) to assist with the development of Nantwich Gin.
What made you decide to create Nantwich Gin and what is the inspiration behind it?
We believed that Nantwich deserved a premium gin product of its own to celebrate the town’s history, culture, personalities and stories from the past. We recognised that Nantwich Gin needed to have a juniper-forward profile with a contemporary twist. Delicate florals were important to include in the recipe, as a nod to the beautiful floral displays you find throughout the town, all year round. The use of lemon thyme was also important, as the gin was also developed to celebrate Nantwich-born herbalist John Gerard (1545 – 1612), who was a botanist and Royal herbalist in Tudor times. Gerard also wrote what became recognised as the go-to book on plants in the 17th Century. We included cardamom to add a twist of spice, and pink peppercorns that contribute to a lingering finish.
Can you tell us more about your 'Matron's Strength Gin'?
To celebrate the first Birthday of Nantwich Gin, we also released a limited edition Navy Strength version of our signature gin. Matron's Strength was developed during the tough months of 2021 to honour the bravery and tenacity of healthcare professionals across the world. A celebration of their continuous dedication, pre and post pandemic. Deb, our co-founder, is a dedicated NHS Matron with more than 40 years in healthcare and after seeing close-up, the impact of the last few years on our health workers, we couldn’t think of a better symbol for strength. Only 120 x 200ml bottles of Matron’s Strength were released in November 2021 for the limited edition run, with a view to producing 700ml versions in future batches.
Can you tell us more about the distillery?
We began our recipe development on a small trial iStill on-site during the first lockdowns of 2020. As the hype and demand grew on the run up to the release of Nantwich Gin, we decided to reach out to a local distiller who assists with the production of our batches. As soon as it’s feasible for us, we’re aiming to bring production on-site.
Can you tell us more about the distillation process and botanicals?
Nantwich Gin is produced on our partner distiller’s 500L column still, using single shot vapour infusion distillation. The ten botanicals are the golden trio of juniper, coriander and angelica, with lavender, rose petals, rose hips, orris, lemon thyme, cardamom and pink peppercorns.
What have been the biggest challenges and achievements?
Launching in the middle of a pandemic was definitely big a challenge. During those tough months where many establishments were closed, 100% of our sales were B2C, which I believe solidified our relationship with many local customers. We’re certainly glad for this time we had to get to know so many returning customers.
Our achievements in our first year include the accolades Nantwich Gin was awarded, including a silver medal at LSC, a Highly Commended at The Gin Guide Awards and a gold medal at the Gin Masters. We were thrilled with such positive feedback from industry professionals!
How would you describe your Nantwich Gin in 3 words?
Punchy, contemporary, locally-loved.
What's your favourite way to drink your gin?
Nantwich Gin is a great sipping gin over ice, however we enjoy a traditional G&T with the Nantwich Gin perfect serve: 50ml Nantwich Gin, plenty of ice, topped up with Fever Tree Original Tonic, garnished with either a sprig of thyme or a slice of pink grapefruit.
Which gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!)?
There’s definitely too many to name here, but our absolute favourites and big inspirations have to be: Forest Gin, Scilly Spirit, Liverpool Gin and Falmouth Loveday Gin.
What's next for you and Nantwich Gin - any exciting plans?
We have a few new recipes and naturally flavoured gins under development that we’re hoping to release as our small business grows. Stay tuned!
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