I suspect we’ve all had days when we’ve travelled to work and dreamt of better ways to spend our time. Alan Bottomley, an engineer, was driving to his job when the idea struck him to “make gin and grow Christmas trees”! Although it took a little while to win round his partner, Amy Conyard, his idea wasn’t quite as crazy as it may first sound. His father, Stansfield Bottomley, used to make whisky in the mid-1950s and Alan grew up watching him, fascinated, before learning the process himself in the early 1990s. So it was that, in 2016, Alan and Amy decided to take the plunge and Bottomley Distillers was born.
2017 was one hell of a year for gin with figures released today showing Britons bought 51 million bottles of our favourite spirit; an increase of 27% on 2016 figures! Sweeter spirits are proving increasingly popular, with fruit gins dominating sales in 2017 and growth only expected to continue well into 2018. Capitalising on this lucrative market, Aber Falls, North Wales’ first whisky distillery in over 100 years, has launched a range of gin and liqueurs while it waits on its whisky to mature.
My father grew up in Acton but I’ve had no reason to return to his roots. Until now. At London’s Gin Festival I was lucky to meet Oscar Dodd, Brand Manager at Bimber Distillery, who invited me to visit their site in North Acton. After following the central line train tracks, which run incongruously though a peaceful cemetery, one descends into Park Royal Business Park; the largest in London occupying about 500 hectares. The park is home to McVitites and Heinz alongside a number of smaller industrial firms, as well as Amathus Drinks, Speciality Drinks and, of course, Bimber Distillery founded in August 2015.