We’re very strong on our ethos and even though it might cost us more, to always serve the good stuff is a value we always stay true to.
Karl and Lindsay Bond started distilling in their garage in 2014, as with Lindsay being coeliac, home brewing beer just wasn’t possible. Supermarket own vodka mixed with juniper berries, was their take on a gin recipe, and what started out as a home experiment has now become one of our favourite gins of the moment – Forest Gin.
I.T. guy by day and amateur distiller by night, Karl and wife Lindsay started their journey making what they reference as ‘horrible’ gin. Before long, they discovered that the ingredients were the essentials of a good-quality gin, and not just the way it was being produced. They mixed foraged raspberries and blackberries from Macclesfield Forest (just on their doorstep) with an organic grain spirit from Italy, before adding spring water to reduce strength. The result was an impressive great tasting gin, drastically improved from their initial attempt. Their search for high-quality ingredients continued, resulting in a move to organic juniper and botanicals. Naturals, some may say!
Feedback was positive, and the journey of opening a distillery and spirit production business started. To this day, the Monday routine of hand-grinding ingredients continues, with Lindsay at the helm producing every single batch. They distil in small stills, hand producing and bottling 50 cases a week.
Staying true to its locality and wanting to use a material that would not affect the flavour of the spirit, Karl’s search to use pottery for bottling, rather than traditional glass began. He set off in search of a company to do business with, resulting in several failed attempts, before being forced to look further afield. After finding success in Germany, and an initial minimum order later, 1,100 stoneware bottles arrived (to their family home) on the eve of Christmas. Whilst Karl signed off from the office for the Christmas break, Lindsey started the task of unloading the bottles (one, by one), filling the house full.
They had the gin, they had the bottles – it was time to get the stuff bottled and sold. After knock backs from local farmer markets (due to enough alcohol already being sold there), sampling began at local pubs and restaurants. After a social media post by Simon Rimmer, and tasting of a buyer at Harvey Nichols – their first batch was quickly snapped up and taken off their hands.
The stunning bottle nods homage to the local area – with a design by Suzy Taylor. After several attempts by Karl to re-create her art digitally (quite appallingly he adds), they contacted the paper cut artist to create a one-off piece just for them. The original hangs proudly in the cow shed, they now call a distillery, representing the commonplace weasel found in the forest. Getting the design onto the bottle was the next challenge, with the beloved iPhone being the final way the paper cut design turned digital to enable printing onto the bottles.
To this day, they still produce their gin in the very same way they did when distilling from their garage. By Lindsay, by hand, still using the highest-quality ingredients, many of which are foraged in the forest. In other ways, Forest Gin have moved on leaps and bounds. Their bottles are now produced by Wade Ceramics, and Switzerland and Japan take huge volumes of exported stock. They still produce in small-batches (and stills), anything from 300-750 bottles a week. They have appeared on Countryfile, can be found in Michelin starred restaurants, and have recently began future proofing the business with innovation into rum and whiskey as well as a plan to offer overnight foraging visits to the tiny distillery, just a short walk from the forest. Their Earl grey addition, continues to use only the best Oolong tea from Chester, and the first 300 limited edition bottles sold out so quickly they took the decision to produce as a regular product.
Still only a five-man team, working from a poorly insulated cow shed – Forest Gin is a real family run success story. They won double gold in The San Francisco Spirit Awards – with every judge awarding them 97% for both flavour and packaging!
If you haven’t tried Forest Gin yet, we recommend you do.