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Norfolk Business Awards 2018

English Whisky Company hopes to challenge Scotch in nation’s bars and restaurants

Andrew Nelstrop, owner of the English Whisky Company at St George's Distillery, Roudham, near Thetford. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Andrew Nelstrop, owner of the English Whisky Company at St George's Distillery, Roudham, near Thetford. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

A new distribution deal is helping a Norfolk spirits company take on the heavyweights of gin and Scotch, as it looks to get into bars and restaurants across the country.

It is a matter of weeks since the English Whisky Company signed a deal with drinks giant Amathus for its UK distribution, but both parties are already discussing a new direction for the firm in 2018.

Following a rebrand for its English whisky range a year ago, company director Andrew Nelstrop said it was “time to make some changes”.

“We have never really pushed for or concentrated on the on-trade market,” he said.

“Putting our whisky behind a bar and getting a barman to pour it rather than a Scotch whisky will be hard, but this is what Amathus are experts in.

“Over the coming year we will start to see our products appearing in a lot more bars and restaurants. It is good for the brand if people see it when they are out and about – at the moment we only appeal to those who go to a specialist booze shop.

“Amathus has 33-35 people out on the road going to see customers, and I think that is what we need.”

To help with the new venture the Future50 firm, which operates from St George’s Distillery in Roudham, has appointed its own in-house head of sales.

Mr Nelstrop said the company had used a distributor in Scotland since starting up 10 years ago, a family firm which matched its own ideals, but that his company’s needs had changed as it grew.

With Amathus’ headquarters in London, he said it would be easier for the two companies to “talk to each other”.

He added: “It is time we moved up a notch in terms of what we are doing. It would be too easy to stay a local family-owned product rather than consistently growing year on year.”

Mr Nelstrop said trading at the distillery in the run up to Christmas had been good – an average of 100 bottles a day have been dispatched from the distillery for web sales alone, which have bucked the trend to remain strong in the final week before December 25.

In March the distillery launched a new whisky range, The Norfolk, following a rebrand in October 2016 to create The English series.

Last month it released England’s first 10-year-old single malt for more than a century on a limited bottle run.

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