An entrepreneur who started making damson gin from fruit grown in her grandparent’s orchard in Woodborough is toasting her first year in business. Hannah Wardle set up The Orchard Gin Company after friends and family couldn’t get enough of her home-grown recipe.
After selling 30 bottles of her damson gin, before it was even produced, Hannah – who has a background in graphic design – knew she was onto something.
“I’d give people damson gin as a gift and it’s just snowballed from there. Friends and family started putting in orders for Christmas and I couldn’t keep up.”
“We use the sweet Merryweather damson – a variety born just eight miles away from the family Orchard in rural Nottinghamshire, at my grandparent’s house, where the story began. They’re hand-picked for the closest quality control – only damsons with the perfect plumpness are picked for the next batch. The skins are then split to let the damson flavours really play their part,” said Hannah.
“Our rhubarb gin is the best seller. It’s unlike any other rhubarb gin. It tastes of the fruit itself, rather than a rhubarb and custard sweet. It’s certainly different from anything on the market,” she added.
There are now 315 distilleries in Britain – more than double the number operating five years ago. According to figures collected by HM Revenue & Customs, which hands out licences to produce spirits, nearly 50 opened in 2017.
Demand for gins, made by small scale craft and artisan producers has driven a near 20 per cent rise in the total amount of the juniper-flavoured spirit sold.
A total of 47m bottles worth £1.2bn were served up last year – enough, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), for 1.32bn gin and tonics.
The Orchard Gin Company will be joined by a whole host of artisan spirit companies – including Sovereign Spirits, Locksley Distillery, The Cocktail Pickers and Masons Gin – at The Festival of Food and Drink, held in Clumber Park, on September 15 and 16.
The event will also play host to Gin School for the first time this year, a concept launched by Georga Spottiswood, owner of food and drink magazine Savour.
She said: “Gin School aims to educate people’s palates. To celebrate and support artisan gin distilleries and to show the public how to drink artisan gins at home. Our ginstructors take people on a journey of gin, with ginspirational ideas on how to pair gins and flavoured liqueurs with tonics and what to garnish them with,
“It’s fun, interactive and attendees get to try seven different gins and liqueurs.”
Tickets to Gin School cost £10 and as well as seven tastings of artisan gins, those who book a ticket get a goodie bag.
Ticket prices start from just £7 in advance with free entry into Clumber Park included, offering a fantastic saving. Children aged five years and under are also admitted free. Family tickets are available, with entry for two adults and two children up to the age of 16 years, costing from £20. Book your tickets here