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Brighton's first craft gin hits the market

Published:  17 December, 2014

Brighton & Hove's first distillery has opened its doors with Brighton Gin fresh out of the still and into a host of local outlets.

Brighton & Hove's first distillery has opened its doors with Brighton Gin fresh out of the still and into a host of local outlets.

Brighton GinBrighton Gin founders pictured on the PierHelen Chesshire and Kathy Caton are two of the five-strong team of founders behind Brighton's first licensed distillery.

The Brighton Gin Company was set up last year by a list of five high-profile professionals: wine and spirits PR Helen Chesshire; radio producer and former publican and restaurateur Kathy Caton; Nigel Lambe, founder of the WJ King Brewery and chairman of the Small Batch Coffee Company; Johnny Ray, drinks editor of The Spectator and Dr Ian Barry, a Brighton-based physicist.

The first production run of 400 bottles has been completed, and has "pretty much" sold out, Chesshire said, after word spread on Twitter @brightongin.

Chessire told the idea was formed during a pub conversation around 18 months ago, and snowballed from there. "It's been quite a rollercoaster, but it's an interesting time in the market, people are feeling they're coming out of recession after being broke for four years and now have a lot more nous about where they're spending their money. We really wanted a gin that was made in Brighton."

Brighton Gin logoBrighton Gin logo

The team has gone to considerable effort to tether the product to the city - the blue shade on its labels was chosen to match the colour of the railings and bus shelters along the seafront, and is known as "Brighton Seafront Blue".  The aim is to concentrate on distribution in Brighton for the first 12 months, before expanding. But Chesshire said there has already been interest from London.

Caton and Chesshire have been in charge of the recipe development - the gin includes fresh orange and milk thistle botanicals - and since getting their rectifying licence in June, have been coming up with different iterations before arriving at the final recipe.

Rather than raising finances through crowdfunding, as a number of other operators have been doing, the group put in an equal share of capital to get the business off the ground - to pay for labelling, premises rent, a second-hand still, bottles, corks and raw ingredients.

Ultimately Chesshire said her dream would be to "have a gin palace in town, with a still on show, and have it as an educational facility too in five or 10 years time".

Its first stockists include independent merchants Quaff, Butlers and Ten Green Bottles, and ethical supermarket HisBe, where it will retail for around £37, while in the on-trade Hotel and Pub du Vin, the George Payne, the Cyclist  and the Black Dove are also all listing the new gin.