Cornish Rock Gin
Cornish Rock Gin is the latest in the gin boom of new small-scale distillers popping up across England. This gin local to North Cornwall has a real family feel, with their passion for drinking gin in the summer sun coming through in every glass.
Husband and wife, Angie and George moved into their stunning property nestled in the woodlands just over a year ago from Exmoor. While the house was being renovated they spent a lot of time walking white Alsatian Blue in Rock. On the beach they met Mark and Carole from nearby St Tudy. They became friends and over drinks in the local pub the idea for making gin started.
“We have got our own spring water source in the property, which we had to open up the borehole to supply the house, so we thought we could use this to make our favourite drink ” explains Angie.
“It was loose talk to make gin at home” says Mark and George “It was a bit of fun, just for ourselves to drink on a summer’s day in the garden.”
Tapping into their natural resource to make gin changed from a sip of an idea when Angie started looking into what was involved in making gin, sparking a new passion. She took the lead, booking onto training at gin schools including the Ginstitite on Portabello Road
“I didn’t really know much about gin, but I liked drinking good quality gin!” says Angie.
“I used to drink a dry martini, but I was never particular about the gin until I started to study it and now I can taste the different gins and pick them out. I wanted to make a dry gin, I don’t like the flavoured gins with fruit as it takes away from what the gin is. I have made a refreshing clean tasting gin.”
George, Angie and Mark are proud that their gin is a bit different to the mass market brands off the shelf. Most are brewed and bottled in 24 hours while Cornish Rock Gin is made over 30 days, creating a smooth, fresh taste.
Making probably a 100 sample batches gave them a lot of late nights. Giving it to friends and professionals to try, they had great feedback as they developed their recipe.
This new passion soon took on a new dimension with a decision to go large scale.
“Making it becomes a bit more technical, buying the alcohol and doing everything wasn’t so simple. So we thought we would make a thousand bottles and see what happened! Worst way, we would drink it over a long time.” laughs Angie.
“Cottage industry that has over taken us a bit”
What made them go from homemade for fun to new business was a visit from Connector Mark Harris from The Growth Hub.
Mark could see that the business had the right attitude and the right formula and encouraged the three friends to look at their cottage industry as a business and not to think too small.
“Mark coming to see us, really set us going and encouraged us do it more professionally.
“He introduced us to Paul from SWMAS and that’s when we considered buying our own machinery. After the visit of Mark, we just said we are going to buy the machinery, set it up and make our own distillery here at the house” explains George.
They made an application and were successful in receiving grant funding from SWMAS towards their own still for distilling the gin.
The Gin Craze is back
“Sourcing machinery, bottles, still, alcohol– it was just research, research, research” says Mark. Licences was another big hoop to jump through, the first hurdle being the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme and a Distillers Licence was even more challenging.
The Gin Craze of the 1700’s still hung over Britain, with no small-scale distilling licences given out by HMRC for over 200 years. The relaxing of the restrictions in 2009 has created a boom in small businesses taking on the big manufactures, just like it has done for craft beers.
Another legacy from the Gin Act is that a distilling still has to have a name and not just numbered. George and Angie decided to name their new still after their beloved and famous racehorse Bonanza Boy, twice winner of successive Welsh Grand Nationals, who passed away aged 30 and is buried at their home on Exmoor.
George, Angie and Mark all agree that the support they have received from local people and the business community has inspired them to grow their business.
“Cornwall is very supportive, everyone has wanted to get behind us and buy the gin. We were creating the want for the gin before we had it. People were going into the shops asking for the gin before we had got there ourselves.” says Mark
“We enjoy doing this, meeting lots of lovely people, selling our own brand at gin festivals. We just want to keep doing it!”
With plans for a bottling plant next to the distilling shed and taking on some staff to help out, Cornish Rock Gin is ready to toast its future success.