The year 2020 started with such promise and optimism before slowly decaying into insanity. I’m Tom, a 34 year old father of 1 (soon to be 2!) Huddersfield University graduate, ex large format print professional, current escape room owner and long time gin lover (any flavoursome alcohol lover come to think of it…)
Whilst the global disaster of Coronavirus meant that I had to close the doors to my other business, it also gave me the opportunity to resurrect a lifelong dream of starting a gin company. With no real experience in distilling, and only a vague opinion on exactly what I like in a gin, I started my journey in the summer of 2020 with the goal of having a finished product in my hands before Christmas.
I am not a person to hang around when I’ve got an idea – in fact, if you ask my wife she’d say I’m like a bull to a red rag once I set my eye on something. I got straight on to the task at hand, and began with the most essential part of starting a gin business… ordering, and subsequently drinking, an obscene amount of gin and telling myself I was “conducting a tasting”. From trying various local and more national brands, I found that I really enjoyed a drink packed with flavour which can be enjoyed neat as much as it can with a tonic.
I then went out into the industry and gained a wealth of knowledge and met a range of gin lovers and distillers that offered plenty of advice. I found a team of experts that then helped create the first recipes and set up the production side of things.
One of the hardest parts of the journey was coming up with a name, and then creating a label that suited the brand I wanted to create. Initially I knew I wanted it to be a very local product as Huddersfield has been my home for many years, and I’m a firm advocate of the town, and what better landmark to champion the brand than Castle Hill. After weeks of dealing with different graphic designers and agencies I happened across a fantastic and quirky illustrator through a friend of ours and within a few short hours she had captured the look of the brand perfectly.
In the last few weeks of December everything started to fall into place as we finalised recipes, chose bottles, agreed on labels and started producing, all of which meant that I finally achieved my goal of having two gins that I’m immensely proud of in my hands before 2020 was up.
Here’s to 2021…