Where to start? That was the big questions rattling around in our heads for a few weeks once we'd registered Hussingtree Blends Ltd.
First thing was to carry on with lots of reading. A phrase we're familiar with is 'you don't know what you don't know'. And it summed up perfectly our journey during late 2017 and early 2018.
Whilst we delved deeper and deeper into things, we quickly learnt some of the many hurdles that stand in the way of setting up a business in the world of alcohol. From the various licences that are (rightly) required through to the costs of alcohol duty that make cashflow a headache, certainly at the beginning.
On the brighter side of things, learning more and more about the intricacies of botanicals and how they balance with each other has been fascinating. Which is ultimately where the success of our Hussingtree Gin will hopefully lie. Some great tasting gin, which is distinctive enough to become a favourite of our customers. We've already had some great feedback from potential customers and a premium bar in Worcester...but that's a story for another future blog post!
Experimenting with gin botanicals
Our focus during the first few months of 2018 therefore turned firmly in the direction of experimenting with botanicals. So we purchased our first small test tabletop still, called Evie (after Duncan's first daughter). Setting it up, we realised, was our first serious milestone. Within 24 hours we had our first few bottles of experimental gin made and tasted (stored, oddly, in old wine bottles as we hadn't even sourced our first set of gin bottles!).
At the heart of what we're setting out to achieve is taking inspiration from our home county of Worcestershire. It's rich with great produce, with the Vale of Evesham - the fruit and vegetable basket of England, nationally renowned. By bringing what's best from Worcestershire, we hope, Hussingtree Gin will become a firm favourite within the county (and far beyond, overtime). A local distilled gin inspired and made with local produce.
The wonderful juneberry
Whilst playing with different botanicals, we sourced some local juneberries. As a fruit the juneberry packs a punch. Both in terms of flavour and in natural goodness.
Having fallen in love with the juneberry we set out trying to see how it could work within gin. We were very pleasantly surprised. After a few quick taste tests amongst family members we realised we might be onto something. So we firmly pressed on, further experimenting with juneberries and other botanicals, seeking out well balanced flavours. It's been an incredibly rewarding (and tasty) process!
With a deeper understanding of the distilling process achieved and a variety of good (and not-so-good!) trial distilled gins produced, we sat down to plan the next phase - asking other people if what we'd created tasted any good. We were very pleasantly surprised...which we've since cover in another article that you can read here!