On a long dark drive home from work on the A16 back to Louth, Alan Bottomley had a thought. He’d had enough of the nine to five grind and wanted to do something completely different. ‘I had this vision to one day be sitting on the porch drinking gin and tonic being surrounded by pine trees,’ he says.
That vision is close to completion. Alan along with his partner, Amy Conyard, are leading the gin revolution in Lincolnshire. They’re owners of Bottomley Distillers in Louth where they make the popular Pin Gin.
This wasn’t new territory for Alan. His dad, Stansfield, had previous experience of creating his own drinks. They were made in the old family garage for friends and family. ‘My dad used to make his own whisky when I was a child and I learnt the trade by watching him. I also spent 17 years as an engineer boiling oil and making machines, so it all fell into place really.’
‘When we announced we’d be making our own drinks lots of people commented saying “I remember Stans firewater!” added Amy. ‘It was crazy – even from people we didn’t know. Clearly it was a popular drink back then.’
The couple started back in early 2016 with a small copper still they named Dotty. It was set up on the stove in their townhouse kitchen where the couple started experimenting with flavours. It wasn’t long before they started selling to the public.
The gins were on the market in February 2017 and from the moment they sold their first bottle it was a challenge to keep up with demand. ‘We just couldn’t produce quick enough.’ says Alan. ‘We had Dotty running three times a day, but fortunately I worked for a company who gave me time to go back and check her regularly. I would even bring gin into work for our Monday morning board meetings for people to try to make sure I had the right taste.’
Their sales tactic at first was simple; just answer the phones!
‘Because we were one of the first on the gin trend, we got a lot of support and interest,’ says Amy. ‘We now sell all over the UK.’
Dotty was replaced by the larger Rose and the production moved to the garage. In no time Bottomleys quickly evolved and Pin Gin became one of the county’s most recognisable brands. And in Spring 2019 they went the next big step and moved to a brand-new unit in Bolingbroke Court in Louth. They opened a new gin school, tasting room, on-site shop and added Stansfield, named after Alan’s dad, the biggest still in the factory which makes most of the gin.
Every ingredient in Pin Gin has been expertly selected and according to Alan and Amy there’s no better place to find the best than at right here in Lincolnshire.
‘We support and buy local where we can because we’re proud of the county,’ says Alan. ‘We use as many ingredients from the area, even using Lincolnshire water. It has that hard limey taste and adding that to the mixture of the strong flavours produces an excellent result.’
Other ingredients include malt harvested in Grantham and sugar canes in neighbouring Yorkshire.
‘We wouldn’t be where we are without the support from the local community. Now more than ever people care about what goes in their drink.’ says Alan. ‘If you can buy within your county and produce for your county it hopefully benefits your business at the end of it.’ says Amy.
Bottomley Distillers have an open-door policy, so anyone is free to pop in, meet the team and ask about the gin.
‘We think people like our drinks because we don’t hide behind a label. It’s rewarding to know customers aren’t buying your product just because it’s made around the corner, but because it tastes really good,’ says Amy.
Alan concludes: ‘We’re real people who work hard to make a gin our customers love'.