Tiny Surrey gin distillery supplying Fortnum & Mason moves from a kitchen to a barn

The Gin Kitchen, based in Dorking, is set to ramp up its production and cash in on the ‘experiential trend’ by offering distilling experiences to customers in a new site based in a barn.

The current site in a pub outbuilding.

The distillery, owned by Kate Gregory and Helen Muncie, is set to move to a 80m2 barn, a site over four times larger that what they currently operate from.

With its two gins, Dancing Dragontail Summer Gin and Gutsy Monkey Winter Gin, stocked in Fortnum & Mason at £53 a bottle, the pair are aiming to commission a new still this summer. They currently use two 40-litre stills but wish to buy an additional 350-litre still.

The barn, which will also provide room for future expansion, will enable the distillery to receive deliveries of pallets for the first time. Currently, pallets are delivered to a self-storage facility in Leatherhead before the bottles are loaded into a car to drive them to the distillery.

The move will create a further four full-time jobs, adding to the current 2.5 full-time equivalent members (three still guardians, a brand ambassador and a distribution manager) of staff that the distillery currently employs.

Speaking about the project, the pair told db: “We want to create a destination for spirits in Dorking, with a tasting bar and shop, selling not only bottles but accessories, such as hand-painted glasses, and complementary products from other local producers. The tasting bar will be fully equipped to showcase our spirits in cocktails and to unleash our experiments on the public.

“We are always happy to show people around the distillery ad hoc when we’re open, but we will also offer organised group visits including talks and tastings. We’re most excited however about the distilling experiences we’ll be offering, where a group comes along for an evening with some ideas for botanicals (which we source in advance) and they have hands-on experience of distilling their own gin and naming it.

Founders Kate Gregory (left) and Helen Muncie (right)

“They get to take a bottle away at the end of the day and we store it in our records in case they want to order more bottles in the future. We’ll also be hosting events such as product launches and parties from time to time”.

And it’s not all gin. The duo launched a rose absinthe last year in the basement of a tattoo studio in Dorking. Made with green anise, wormwood, fennel, elecampane, immortelle and liquorice, it uses rose petals for the second maceration, meaning that it is “the colour of rosé wine” instead of the usual bright green.

They hope to move into the new premises in March 2018 and are currently working on a collaboration with Fortnum & Mason for Chinese New Year to be unveiled next month.

Gregory and Muncie opened The Gin Kitchen Distillery and launched Gutsy Monkey Winter Gin in November 2016 after trialling their product on friends and family. After “stalking” the spirits buyer at Fortnum and Mason they gained listings and ‘spirit of the month’ accolades at the department store in 2017.

Muncie added: “The sense of growing something from nothing has been so satisfying and rewarding. We still go ‘Oh my god, we have got a distillery!’

“And it’s really good fun. We started off saying, if we get our gin on a shelf in a pub, and break even, that’s pretty cool. We didn’t expect to see this as a business. Now we have created jobs, and that’s really nice too.”

The new barn is over four times larger that the current distillery site.

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