Future50 member English Whisky Company aiming for growth at home and abroad
- Credit: Archant
When Andrew Nelstrop set up the English Whisky Company in 2006, his aim was to create world-class single malt.
But the tourism offer at the St George's Distillery has become as strong as its whisky, attracting an estimated 50,000 visitors a year for tours, tasting sessions or just a coffee off the A11.
Now, Mr Nelstrop has come up with plans to further boost both strands of the business, and reach new customers at home and abroad.
A new restaurant, currently being built in the Roudham distillery's front garden after a £300,000 investment, and enlarged shop, could double visitor numbers when complete in the autumn.
Meanwhile, it has rebranded the single malt which has made it famous, dropping its George-and-dragon motif and its custom of naming whiskies by numbered chapters, in favour of one name – The English – available in either original or smokey.
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It has also launched a trio of Norfolk whiskies, intended to demonstrate the distillery's pride in its geographical roots and capitalise on the popularity of local artisan products, while The English is a simpler brand designed to appeal to overseas customers, said Mr Nelstrop.
'With one hand, we are pushing The English to a wider market, and with the other we are pushing our Norfolk products to a far more local market,' he said.
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'When we researched the rebrand, we found there wasn't much ownership: people didn't know where The English came from. But we are Norfolk: we make everything here. Everything from the barley, to the bottling and the marketing.'
The rebrand has already 'reinvigorated' overseas markets, with a first order from Belgium for four years, adding to sales in the Netherlands, France, Taiwan and Singapore, among others.
But it's at home where Mr Nelstrop sees the immediate potential – distilling being a long-term 'generational sport' – with the restaurant opening up possibilities in the events and weddings market.
'When we have the kitchen, we will be able to put on breakfast meetings, hold evening events or cater for the groups of day-trippers who visit,' said Mr Nelstrop, who said each business turns over around £1.5m a year.
'We never expected it, but the tourism side has left the other side completely in the dark.'