Interview: Will Edge, founder and distiller at Greensand Ridge Distillery
PUBLISHED: 12:27 23 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:27 23 June 2020
We caught up with Will Edge, founder and distiller at Greensand Ridge Distillery to see how he has been coping during lockdown
Who did you miss the most during lockdown?
Apart from family, I missed the familiar look of our business. Things changed beyond recognition, with spirits sales very flat and our newly created sanitiser production going through the roof. My passion is making spirits so I’m looking forward to getting back to that and product development, but we’re just reacting to what is needed and what can drive our business forward for now.
Who did you speak to the most other than those you were in the house with?
I am literally on the phone all day talking with suppliers and customers and none of that has really stopped. At the moment, with our one-in-10 sanitiser gifting campaign I am getting huge amounts of calls from desperate charities and care organisations and it can be quite emotionally overwhelming.
What changes did you have to make to your business?
We pretty much went from being a distillery to a sanitiser manufacturer. It took about three days of very complex work – legal mostly, but also sourcing and pricing – and then we were up and running. As people are at home and drinking more, we are continuing to do well on that front. But 80 per cent of our business is to bars, pubs and restaurants, so that part of the business is quite slow when usually by spring sales would be rocketing.
What did you learn during lockdown?
I learnt that when push came to shove I could work all day every day! I did find some time to reacquaint myself with my chainsaw and bring destruction to some laurel, but the pace of work didn’t really let up for me.
Where will be the first place you go eat or drink once this is over?
Going for country walks and not stopping at the pub has been like a personal hell, so I will sit outside the Kentish Rifleman in Dunk’s Green and make up for lost time.
What positives can you take from this?
I’m an optimist and can see a lot of positives but I don’t think it’s really the right time yet to dwell on them when so many people are still struggling.
From a business point of view the ability to give something (sanitiser) to so many people for whom it is vitally important has been wonderful, and we are keeping that up for the foreseeable future. As a society we need to find a way of disengaging with the pursuit of endless economic growth as a measure of success and readjusting ourselves to wellbeing and sustainable living.
We’ve never had the incentive or ability to do that before, but it might be that we’re all a bit more receptive to it now.