Are you ready for another edition of 12 Days of Christmas? Today is taking a boozy turn as I chat all things Christmas, cocktails and crackers with Colin from The Herbal Gin Company!
Hello and welcome to This Northern Gal! Why don’t you start by introducing yourself?
Hi Kelly, my name is Colin Scott. I was GP in the local area up until Dec 31 2019 and then I decided to “retire” and set up a distillery and a bar. I worked in the NHS for 16 years and prior to that was a doctor in the Army, also for 16 years.
I suppose the Army experience was the underlying push to do something different. As military folk will know only too well that usually the maximum time in any one place is 2 years before moving on. Our first daughter moved into her 11th house in 12 years before leaving, so moving about was the norm and then 16 years in the one place led to itchy feet!
And now let’s introduce your business. What can you tell us about the Herbal Gin Company?
Well, actually we have two businesses, The Herbal Gin Company and The Aviator Gin Bar. Both are co-located and the Gin Bar was an offspring of The Herbal Gin Company.
The Herbal Gin Company came first, being the brainchild of our second daughter Rebecca, who got the idea going for making gin when we were on holiday in August 2018. It seemed like a good idea at the time and I texted a friend to see if he was interested and so he went from friend to business partner.
We then attended a course to see if gin-making was something we really wanted to do and attended a brewery that had set up a co-located bar to ply its wares.
This good idea seemed like it was a no-brainer when we started to think about it, and so the hard work began.
So it’s not just a gin company then is it? In usual circumstances, you also have a bar! What’s that like?
To be honest, hard work!
The gin is great fun but time consuming and keeping a bar going when we initially had no staff forced us to work in the business at times rather than on the business, if you see what I mean. Cleaning floors, bars, stocking up, ordering – you name it, the list is long.
However, we have now started to develop a great cohort of people that we work with that are starting to spread the load and keep the businesses as much fun to run as we hoped would happen in the first place.
Wow! That sounds busy! How do you manage to balance the two?
The easy answer to this is making full use of the 24 hours in the day. It sounds glib but it’s true. Some things just need time and neither my business partner nor I will shy away from hard work or long hours. This was the only way to learn how to run these two, completely new, businesses.
30+ years as a doctor and Army Officer doesn’t give too much in the way of skills to knowing how to distill gin nor run a bar! However, the time has paid off and we are now increasingly aware of the needs of the jobs. There are transferable skills though: communication and prioritising need are two that spring to mind that my previous medicine / military experience has helped with.
The people that come to the bar are great fun to meet, chat with – whilst serving -and so it’s essentially building our own little community from scratch.
You definitely get a sense of that community feel! If you could recommend one gin for a secret santa gift, what would you suggest?
Crackers – we have some fab options with the crackers in flavour options and size options too – so there’s something for everyone (but only if you are 18 years or over!).
I definitely agree (and my have ordered some myself)! What does your perfect Christmas look like?
The knowledge that lockdown will be relaxed to allow us to be able to open again.
Speaking of the bar reopening, I’ve spotted a few cocktails on your social media recently too…Which one cocktail would you recommend over the festive period?
- 2 measures of gin (I would recommend our Seville Orange gin)
- 1 measure of St germain (elderflower liqueur – excellent!)
- Sparkling wine – to top up
- Garnish with some redcurrants
- Mix the gin and St Germain in ice then pour into a chilled coupe / martini glass.
- Top up with sparkling wine (prosecco is good for me!)
- Garnish with redcurrants
I’ll definitely have to try that one! What’s next for the Herbal Gin Company in 2021?
Hopefully we can start to supply some of the big supermarkets and export. Currently we are looking at Sweden / Italy / Spain / New Zealand / USA but to be honest we are open to all markets. Here’s hoping….
Can I just end by wishing everybody a very Happy Christmas – Cheers!
And Happy Christmas to you too Colin! You can find the Herbal Gin Company’s website here.