A North East distillery has plans to expand after getting off to a strong start.
Durham Distillery, the first legal distillery in Durham since the days of Henry VIII, was set up in April 2013 and now intends to launch a new product, Durham Vodka, within the next few weeks.
The business, which was set up by former NHS executive Jon Chadwick, is selling between 700 and 900 bottles of gin each month, both through its ecommerce website and through retailers and bars. Products are handmade by Jessica Tomlinson, the company’s distiller, who at 26 is the youngest female distiller in the country.
Part of the firm’s success so far has come from the creation of a strong brand identity, supported by funding from the North East Business Support Fund (NEBSF), administered through NBSL.
This has allowed it to work with the Gosforth-based graphic design agency Wonderstuff, one of more than 850 suppliers signed up to NBSL’s supplier register.
Chadwick said: “I was really aware when I set up the company that we needed a distinctive brand that would stand out.
“Essentially, we are selling a clear liquid in a bottle, so I knew I needed something colourful and attractive in order to compete with international brands.
“Working with NBSL, we were able to access support to cover the costs of the brand development, and to create labels for our bottles that really do look fantastic. And I cannot speak highly enough of the support we received.
“The team at NBSL were so supportive, and the process of accessing funding was simple and straightforward. I would recommend any business – young or old – to tap into the help available to them. We’re lucky that there are some really good people in the North East working in the business support sector, and during start up; it is so helpful to have that assistance available.”
Durham Gin is now being stocked in the likes of Fenwick and Majestic, as well a number of independents across the region.
The product is also on sale in bars at Seaham Hall, Jesmond Dene House and elsewhere.
NBSL North East business adviser, Lynne Burns, said: “Durham Distillery is a really exciting company, and the success they have seen - I am sure – is only just the beginning.
“We are delighted to have been able to support Jon with funding that has helped to create such an impactful brand, and one that I am sure will only strengthen with the addition of Durham Vodka.”
By accessing NEBSF, companies can receive funding of up to 40% on projects worth as much as £3,500.
Customers can use the funding for most types of business support that will help the business to grow, from marketing and web design to financial or human resources planning.
The fund has already assisted more than 1,000 businesses.
NBSL also offers specific support to businesses in rural Northumberland through the Rural Growth Network.