Betsy will be making the next batch of gin at the award-winning Chalgrove Artisan Distillery.

Big, beautiful and brassy she looks the part in the new distillery room and is waiting to start making the next batch of OX Gin. Betsy is, of course, the company’s brand new still, and will be steaming into action very soon.

the team used lockdown to create a swanky new gin bar, shop and distillery, due to open to the public very soon

Betsy

This is just one of the new additions to the business which includes a gin bar, gin experience, gin school, new flavours, plus exciting collaborations with local businesses.

The family run firm, whose OX 44 Gin was voted best UK gin, and second in the world, at last year’s London Spirit Competition, defied the business challenges of lockdown to move into their new premises on the Monument Business Park in Chalgrove in March, having previously operated from Bob and Jenny Clark’s garden shed at their nearby home.

Gin ‘scholars’ at the Gin School will even get the chance to design their own labels

Jenny added: “We really never imagined this would happen and it is incredible that so many people really love our gin. We are very proud of what we have achieved and moving to our new premises has been a great step forward.”

Bob and Jenny Clark in their new CAD gin bar

With great support from their new landlords, the local council and fellow business neighbours, the lease on the new premises was signed on March 1, days before the country went into lockdown.

Since then, OX Gins have been in even greater demand online with orders flooding in. In between deliveries, the team also created a swanky new gin bar, shop and distillery due to open to the public very soon.

“Local businesses have already said they are looking forward to coming here after work,” said Ben.

The new look gin bar

“The plan is to open the shop from 9am and the bar from lunchtime until 7pm. The response to the idea has been really positive and we can’t wait to get going.

A trip to France pre-lockdown also resulted in the decision to add Collet Champagne to the gin bar offering.

Jenny and Bob’s son Ben will be looking after the soon-to-be-launched Gin Experience, Gin School and events. “The Gin Experience is a gin tasting while informing people about our story,” he explains.

“The Gin School is a fully immersive experience and includes the Gin Experience plus a chance to learn about the botanics we use, choose your own combination and distil your own gin.”

Before the metamorphosis took place

Gin ‘scholars’ at the Gin School will even get the chance to design their own labels.

Bob added: “The gin that people make on the day will sit with us for a couple of weeks before it is posted out to them. This is reflective of the whole process and we want it to be as authentic as possible.”

The business is a true family affair with Jenny as chief flavour creator and finance genius, Bob as distiller, daughter Louise Clark designs the packaging and Marg Reason, Bob’s sister is the house manager, and the new shiny still is named after Betsy their nine-year-old grandaughter.

The new look gin bar

So how did Chalgrove Artisan Distillery come into being in the first place? It was a combination of Bob’s amateur brewing and Jenny’s desire to try her hand at gin-making. Turns out she had quite a talent for it!

OX Gins have won gold, silver and bronze awards judged by experts and mixologists from across the globe. For a company that only launched three years ago it is a huge success story.

OX Gins on the bar

As if this wasn’t enough, well as new gins on the horizon, there is also a non-alcoholic gin on the cards courtesy of Jenny’s gin wizardry.

True to their artisan roots, the CAD team have collaborated with other local small businesses and producers and now stock Gin Berry Syrup made at the nearby Battlefield Pantry.

Bob explained: “We give the gin infused blackberries that we use to the Battlefield Pantry and they then boil the fruit to remove the alcohol and turn it into a delicious syrup that you can add to drinks or even put on your porridge! It’s delicious!”

There is also a partnership with near neighbours Chiltern Candles from Speen for an OX44 inspired candle.

If their current success is anything to go on, it won’t be long.

To find out more about Chalgrove Artisan Distillery and OX Gins go to www.oxgins.co.uk

SARAH EDWARDS

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