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Making your own gin: Why Norfolk's gin producers will never go out of business

PUBLISHED: 13:44 05 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:48 05 June 2019

From back to front: Ella Wilkinson, Andy Newman and Eleanor Pringle. Smelling the mixture of botanicals added to our personal gins at the St Giles gin making experience. Picture: Archant

From back to front: Ella Wilkinson, Andy Newman and Eleanor Pringle. Smelling the mixture of botanicals added to our personal gins at the St Giles gin making experience. Picture: Archant

Archant

Norfolk's gin producers have so far managed to ride the crest of the gin demand wave - but for how much longer can they stay ahead of the curve?

You can add any flavour you choose to your personalised gin at the St Giles gin making experience. Picture: Ella WilkinsonYou can add any flavour you choose to your personalised gin at the St Giles gin making experience. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

This is the question which Peter Margree, head distiller of Crostwick's St Giles Gin must seek to answer every day.

The company was launched two and a half years ago by professional diver Simon Melton, who having travelled around the world for his job, tasted many combinations of the spirit with other flavours.

Returning to Norfolk, Mr Melton set up St Giles Gin, which now boasts three different products and a host of awards.

Mr Margree and the team are one of the tens of independent distillers in this county, but feel that they didn't lose out by setting up shop mid-gin boom.

St Giles head distiller, Pete Margree, with two of their award winning gins. Picture: Ella WilkinsonSt Giles head distiller, Pete Margree, with two of their award winning gins. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

"I think you can always look back and think 'If we'd done this a little bit earlier we'd be further down the road', but we just have to look at how far we've come," Mr Margree said.

"In terms of when we started we've done fine. We've managed to be a success on the gin wave because of our quality. If you make anything of a high enough quality it doesn't matter what else is out there," he said.

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Mr Margree can produce around 400 bottles of gin a week out of his distil.

The copper gin stills at the St Giles gin making experience. Picture: Ella WilkinsonThe copper gin stills at the St Giles gin making experience. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

This can be either the classic St Giles Gin, the raspberry, rhubarb and ginger gin, or the St Giles Divers' Edition gin.

"We take a lot of care and expense to make sure we have the best product and that's been borne out by the number of awards we've got," he said.

Other factors like awards and hosting gin-making experiences have also boosted profits and added to the businesses' offering,

And Mr Margree believes Norfolk's tendency to distil artisan gin isn't just down to smart business decisions - it's in our blood.

"Norfolk has had a real tradition with food and drink. My dad always used to say beer used to be barren - there was only one type. But Norfolk was a stalwart, it has a tradition of brewing and there's a real history of independent brewing here," he said.

And Norfolk's history may put it in a strong position to capitalise on the next drinking trend, which is believed to be rum.

"I can see rum being produced well in Norfolk because of the Nelson connection," Mr Margree said. "Will rum will take off? Who knows. We'd like to give it a go though."

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