2020 was all set to be an exciting and fun year. We had a busy programme of tasting events, lots of export prospects and plans to open a gin school and a cocktail bar.
But as coronavirus began to take a hold in March, our order intake plummeted. We were afraid for our families and concerned for our staff, customers and suppliers. Kate produced dystopian financial models that predicted closure and homelessness by May.
We despaired over a G&T... And apparently so did everyone else as our orders suddenly sky-rocketed in April.
Our courageous staff juggled self-isolation, home-working and childcare to distil fabulous gin and keep the distillery running. Our customers and suppliers also worked hard to maintain their service as we adapted the business to mitigate the evolving threat and keep our guests, our team and our families safe.
Our Top Triumphs
1. Hand Sanitiser to Stop the Spread
In March we had a call from a local care home, desperate for hand sanitiser. So we turned our distilling skills to making pre-surgical grade hand sanitiser and started supplying hospitals, care homes and the armed forces. Joining this national effort gave us a sense of purpose and togetherness that really moved and united us all.
2. Digital Connections
During the first few days of lock-down we completely transformed our website to make it easier for people at home to enjoy our fabulous spirits. We added new products, like emergency lock-down G&T packs and saw ten times the amount of online sales.
Our exports doubled as we entered new markets in Singapore, the Caribbean and the Channel Islands. Our gin appeared in cocktail bars in Tokyo and celebrities’ homes in Miami. We were delighted when Inter Miami Centre-back Nico Figal contacted us to tell us how much he loves our gin.
4. Opening the Orangery Bar
It was a bold decision to build a cocktail bar when hospitality venues were closing up and down the country but our vision was to create a safe space to socially connect our local community.
It all started when a passing cyclist came to the shop and asked if he could have a drink. We sold him a miniature gin and bottle of tonic and gave him a compostable cup. Then we thought, maybe we can offer takeaway drinks and after a quick read of the legislation, started a gin and cocktail bar. Word spread and there were soon hour-long queues for our cocktails.
During the summer, when people couldn’t go on holiday, we brought Ibiza tunes and refreshing cocktails to the Surrey Hills. In winter we provided cyclists and hikers with hot gin drinks and hearty mountain food. People loved it!
Designed flexibly to cope with socially distanced seating and lots of indoor and outdoor space, it accommodates bottomless brunches, afternoon G&T, tasting experiences and parties when government guidelines allow.
We're also proud of:
Winning TripAdvisor's Travellers Choice 2020 Award, being in the top 10% of tourist attractions worldwide.
Launching two new gins: Saints and Strangers commemorating the launch of the Mayflower, which carried Dorking residents to the New World 400 years ago; and EX46, an expertly crafted classic gin that is testimony to Kate's aeronautical past.
Managing a 33% increase in demand for our gin and December 2020 was our busiest month ever!
2021 will be even better!
We would like to thank everyone who supported us during 2020. The challenges we had to overcome changed our perspective and made us stronger.
We have exciting plans for 2021 with two new rums in the pipeline; bottomless brunches, cocktail masterclasses and afternoon G&Ts in the Orangery; and the launch of our range in Germany.
With a glass in hand, we’re bidding farewell to 2020 and welcoming 2021.
Photograph taken before coronavirus restrictions.