Gin distillery: a day in the life
09:20 03 January 2017
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
Kim Reason of Anno Distillers on science, alchemy, experimentation – and an awful lot of patience
Your full name: Kim Reason
Job title: Sales & marketing manager
Where based: Marden
At Anno we use the spirit of alchemy to influence all of our products, and it is from this scientific background that our beginnings stem. Both the founders and myself are keen scientists and enjoy experimenting with new ideas. My father, Andy, and his founding business partner Norman (right) were working at pharmaceutical company GSK when it was announced that their site was to be shut down. They had a few different options on the table, but their passion for science and love of the finer things in life – such as gin and whisky – meant that there was only ever really going to be one outcome. So they started a distillery and Anno Distillers was born.
I had finished a degree in Biological Sciences and an MA in Business Management & Marketing, but was off discovering the world in Malaysia, working as a scuba diving instructor when I got the call asking, “Would I like to help them set up a distillery?” I was back within two weeks, sitting in my mother’s kitchen in Maidstone with a 2-litre still, developing a gin recipe.
What kind of business is it?
A lot has changed since Anno was founded in August 2011, back when we were developing gin recipes in that tiny still. It took two years of experimentation and tweaks until we perfected our recipe and introduced our first product onto the market. It seemed like an eternity to wait, but it was time well spent developing recipes, waiting for our licences to come through, and designing our 300-litre copper-pot still, which we lovingly call ‘Patience’ (for obvious reasons).
We’ve had an amazing response since, so much so that we’ve expanded our range to five spirits – the original Anno Kent Dry Gin, an overproof 60 per cent abv dry gin, a sloe gin, elderflower vodka spirit drink, and a limited edition spiced cranberry gin.
We’ve moved into a small premises in Marden, where we distil and hand-bottle our products and offer distillery tours and private functions.
How do you promote?
Luckily being the first micro-distillery in the county has created a lot of intrigue and with gin being the ‘in’ spirit we are grateful to have receive many opportunities for free press interviews, in print, on the radio and on TV, which helps to spread the message.
We are fortunate to have started up in the age of social media whereby it is easy to build a loyal following and engage with your customers directly through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram relatively cheaply.
How do you market?
We sell through many independent off-licences, farm shops, delis and local heritage sites including some beautiful Kentish castles. One of our biggest and best known is Majestic Wine Warehouses, but we also sell online and through a selection of wholesalers and distributors to the on-trade, restaurants and bars.
How many staff now?
We are a small team so, other than myself, Andy and Norman, we also have Mike, who is our assistant distiller, and Peter, our commercial sales manager.
A typical working day?
Working in a fast-paced, small business means there is no such thing as a typical working day. There’s always something new and intriguing to get stuck into.
I try my best to stay in the office and focus on the sales and marketing, but you’ll often find me out on the road meeting stockists and promoting the brand at trade shows, networking meetings or with bloggers etc.
Job titles are somewhat a misnomer at times and you’ll find everyone pitching in with distilling, bottling, preparing orders, visitor tours and all the other minutiae of running a successful company at various different times.
Have you won any awards?
Our most recent is the Kent Life and Kent on Sunday 2016 Drinks Producer of the Year, but we have also won Taste of Kent Awards, Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Double Gold at the Great Taste Awards, and been BBC Good Food Show Champions.
Marks out of 10?
Sitting around all day drinking gin? How could that not be a 10?! In all seriousness, while there are long hours and many hurdles, the variety you get, the people you meet and being able to physically see the fruits of your labour at the end of the day make it all worthwhile. w
Get in touch
Anno Distillers, Unit 4 Crest Ind Estate, Pattenden Lane, Marden TN12 9QJ
01622 833278, www.annodistillers.co.uk