First EVER Blog Post

Kate drinking an enormous Test Valley Gin and tonic

First EVER Blog Post

Well hello Gin Lovers. Thank you for taking the time to read my first ever blog post! If you already know anything about Wessex Spirits or me you may well realise that it’s all a big learning curve. I’m no great big business brain; it’s just little ol’ me, making gin and trying to muddle through!

So if you don’t know anything about Wessex Spirits; hello! I’m Kate and I make gin. I love saying that as it instantly makes me sound much more interesting than I actually am. I used to say ‘I’m Kate and I teach secondary school English’. Not so seemingly exciting! But teaching was the best job in the world and I miss the cherubs. But I also love to make gin.

Wessex Spirits started life as Test Valley Gin in February 2017. Wow. 3 years ago. You’d think I’d know what I’m doing by now! Maybe not, but I definitely know I’ve left my comfort zone. So I went from being a teacher for ten year, and drinking lots of gin to making it.

I guess it all started with my mum (always blame the parents). I grew up with her making sloe gin, which I still love to this day but can’t compete with so I haven’t tried. When I stopped teaching, 6 months after the birth of my second munchkin I had nothing to lose. Or rather as darling husband put it; ‘stop making excuses and just get on with it’. So I did. I experimented in the kitchen with many many jam jars and different flavour infusions until I hit on the rather fabulous basil and thyme combo which became Test Valley Gin. I booked a launch party for a month later at The Greyhound on the Test in Stockbridge, then had a mild panic about how to get to that point.

Production started in the annexe in my Grandad’s garden. He didn’t really understand what he’d signed up for. But many mistakes and disasters later and hours on the phone to HMRC, many licences and help from Test Valley Borough Council,  Test Valley Gin was born on 16th February 2017. And the rest is history as they say (all marked in various wrinkles on my face and grey hairs).

t was all a bit overwhelming. I’m not the best planner in the world and kind of just went for it. I have to admit I had no idea that the response and support from people would be so great. I’m still in awe today really about the support and care all local businesses give each other and I really love being part of that (hmmm another blog post idea methinks.) Due to all the support I managed to launch a second gin nine months later and then started thinking I might need a new business name as ‘Spire Gin made by Test Valley Gin’ was getting a bit confusing. In January 2018 I moved to my own premises in Andover (much to Gramps’s relief) and changed the name to Wessex Spirits as there were plans afoot for more gins and the rum (which took a year and a half to get on with, but who’s counting?)

So here I am now; three years on (yes, it’s taken me three years to write a blog). Wessex Spirits now has 6 own brand gins (one more very soon for Easter!) one rum with another on the way too and several bespoke gins made for other people. It’s still just me. I make everything, completely by hand; there are no machines at all. I use locally sourced ingredients wherever possible and no added sugar, colours or nasties so my gin tastes like gin.

I still feel like I’m clutching on with my fingernails; waiting for everything to fall in to place and to know what I’m doing and be completely in control. I might be waiting a while for that. But I do love making my products and seeing people buying them – I still can’t quite believe it. And I love welcoming people to my little Gin Palace for the tasting events.

So a big thank you I guess; to you who have managed to keep reading this looooong post (the English teacher in me is set loose!) and to everyone who has supported Wessex Spirits. It really is appreciated. Any feedback would be gratefully received. If there’s anything you’d like me to tell you about just let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

Thanks again and CHEERS!

Kate xxx

1 Comment
  • Alex
    Posted at 20:19h, 05 March Reply

    What an amazing and totally bonkers journey! You really are an inspiration! (Try not to cringe, I know you’ll hate that!)

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