The award-winning Ox Gin ranges are still flying off the shelves at Chalgrove Artisan Distillery despite the pandemic, while Ben, Bob and Jenny Clark’s business dplans gather pace.
As their new distillery really takes shape, Bob told us plans include opening the OX Gins Kiosk to sell their own, and other local produce, and eventually to open Oxfordshire’s first gin school.
LAST YEAR THE FLAGSHIP OX44 GIN WON GOLD AND SILVER AT THE LONDON SPIRITS COMPETITION, AND IS NOW JOINED BY OX2 PINK GIN AND OX1 GIN
So, what about the new distillery, and how have CAD stayed on track through lockdown?
“We have managed to source a unit on the Monument Business Park which is in Chalgrove,” explains Bob, “It was important for us to remain local, particularly given the fact that our brand is built around being named OX Gins.
“We were also the first postcode gin so it would be only right that the distillery remains local.”
“The distillery is coming along nicely. We are currently in the process of refurbishing the unit to ensure that it is fully ready to open when we come out of lockdown,” Bob continues.
“Lockdown hasn’t really prevented us from carrying out this work, in fact, if anything it has provided us with slightly more time to focus on the next steps of growing our business,” he continues.
The new distillery will be the CAD official headquarters, which is a big step up from distilling at home. Jenny, CAD’s co-founder will also no doubt be pleased to get her house back!
Bob added: “The intention is to run all operations from the new premises. It will also provide us with is the opportunity to launch the new OX Gins Kiosk, where we will support other local producers by stocking their products. We also intend to double up the Gin Kiosk as a Gin Bar.
“Once the distillery is up and running, we will also be hosting distillery tours for members of the general public.
“Visitors will be able to attend the distillery and be guided around by one of our team. This will involve learning about the processes that we use to create our multi award winning Gins.”
Longer term the team is hoping to launch one of Oxfordshire’s first Gin schools. Both Bob and Ben are teachers by trade, and this is an aspect of the business that they are most looking forward to developing.
The Gin school will involve members of the public visiting the distillery and creating their own personalised gin to leave with. This idea has already won lots of support.
We will be running a Gin School and distillery tour competition in due course so watch this space!
And how about sales? “The team at CAD are coping very well during these unprecedented times. Our sales in the first quarter of this year are very similar to last year, which is pleasing considering we have not had the demand from pubs, restaurants, and garden centres since the lockdown began.
“Instead, we have noticed a large increase in the amount of mail orders which are reaching all corners of the UK.”
Not bad considering the luxury, artisan distillery’s multi award-winning gin, made in the heart of Oxfordshire, all started off in their garden shed, where Jenny concocted the winning formulas.
And yet, last year the flagship OX44 gin won gold and silver at The London Spirits Competition, and is now joined by OX2 Pink Gin and OX1 Gin.
So what of the future? Bob added that despite the uncertainty. many businesses are being creative and finding ways to keep going – CAD included. And yet it will be challenging for licensed premises going forward, in terms of social distancing and guidance.
“These are uncertain times for all of us and to be honest, we have no idea,” Bob adds. But what has been apparent during these times is the retail and hospitality trades resilience and creativity to think differently.
“For example, we are currently collaborating with Aston Rowant Cricket Club to run a virtual gin tasting event which is a charitable event to support the Ruth Strauss foundation.”
For more information go to http://www.oxgins.co.uk