You were both working in the pharmaceutical industries prior to setting up Anno Distillers. What prompted/motivated you to set up the distillery?
When GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) decided to close the Hildenborough site that Andy an I worked on we started to think about what to do. Niether of us wanted to relocate to Stevenage so we decided to take early retirement. We had both independently wanted to experience setting up a company but also wanted to do something different that would pull on our scientific and management skills. The idea of setting up a microdistillery ticked lots of boxes so that was what we pursued.
Did you have input into the still being chemists or do you buy “off the shelf” so to speak?
The still was designed to meet our speciifc requirements so we had a lot of input. Many of the parts are modular in design.
How long did it take to perfect the recipe?
It took about 18 months of experimentation and tastings!
Who does your gin appeal to and what distinguishes gins like yours from the large brands seen globally? Our gin is designed to appeal to both cocktail drinkers as well as gin lovers of all ages. Our brand is distinguished from other large brands by the smoothness of the spirit (it is designed as a sipping gin) as well as the complexity and balance of the aromas/flavours.
From my understanding as artisans you are in a way treated a little unfairly by HMRC who make you pay duty on each batch of gin once it is made, but before you have sold it. Does this limit the production capacity of small distilleries?
Unfortunately this is the law! Capacity is not limited, but there is a big impact on cash-flow. We can store duty suspended product at bonded warehouses, but of course that also costs money.
What advice would you give to others who dream of setting up a small craft drinks business such as gin, whisky, beer, cider?
Make sure you talk to other producers before committing yourself, so that you understand the pit-falls. Do your costings carefully and expect everything to take longet than you think it should! Expect the unexpected!!
Anything else you would like to add?
The journey from the Corporate world to our new world has been a fantastic one, both exciting and frustrating at times, but expect such a venture to be hard work!