Gallery: Nene Valley Spirits opens with first handcrafted gin on sale
It was May when Leigh Taylor and John Morris began to consider opening a micro-distillery - the height of the first lockdown - and on December 12 they opened the doors to their site at Sacrewell Farm, welcoming customers in to sample (and hopefully buy) their signature gin.
Ermine Street, the first of their All Roads Collective series, is a handcrafted gin inspired by the Nene Valley and its Roman heritage. Ermine Street was one of Britannia's major Roman roads, connecting London and York, and runs close to the distillery. Locally foraged rosemary is used to complement a lemon flavour.
Jo Morris and Shelley Cash, members of the Nene Valley Spirits team, said they'd been "overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and support" since starting up the business.
Shelley said that in a time when news was so often bad, people seemed to really enjoy hearing positive stories of entrepreneurship and local success. Jo added that social media had been a real "motivator", helping the team keep going through the challenging process of setting up a distillery.
Leigh acknowledged that it had been a difficult process, but that it makes sense that it is - licensing and approval is important if people are going to take on the responsibility of making alcohol. But after getting up and running, he was clear: the most important thing to him is that Nene Valley Spirits retains its handcrafted character.
He said: "We want to keep it handcrafted, so we'll never be able to make in the volumes needed to appear on supermarket shelves. Upscaling might happen as we expand the range, but this is a local, true craft distillery."
The All Roads Collective will also take inspiration from other Roman roads, including Watling Street and Fosse Way, but the second gin from Nene Valley Spirits will find influence from a little further afield. The Colibri premium gin is inspired by Latin America; a unique infusion of Mexican and Amazonian botanicals.
Nene Valley Spirits can be found in the artisan courtyard at Sacrewell Farm - where a number of other businesses will be brought into the other buildings, creating a hub for local food and craft producers.