Our artisan distillery in the Surrey Hills is the beating heart of our luxury brand, where we craft fabulous spirits with love and laughter.
Our award-winning spirits share a unique style and character: rich, intense and vibrant; smooth and deep.
How did it all begin?
Our journey began in early 2016 when Kate was inspired by an article about the gin revival on the radio and simply knew that she had to set up a distillery. Deciding that I, her brain-twin Helen, would be the perfect business partner she rang me straight away. We invested the money that we would usually spend on gin, on a beautiful copper alembic still from Portugal that we named Dinky Dragondale. Since neither of us speak a word of Portuguese we had to call the artisan craftsman on a Saturday so his nephew could translate our requirements. Of course, we also did plenty of research! We found that we had no shortage of volunteers to taste our early experiments and the recipes for Gutsy Monkey Winter Gin, and Dancing Dragontail Summer Gin were our friends’ firm favourites. When we opened The Gin Kitchen Distillery and launched Gutsy Monkey Winter Gin in November 2016, we already had local support from people who were excited by our gin. We’d initially thought that if we got one bottle of Gutsy Monkey onto the shelf of one pub in Dorking plus on the shelves of the local farm shop then we would consider ourselves successful; but it quickly became popular throughout Dorking! As word spread of our wonderful winter gin, independent shops and pubs and other larger retailers across Surrey and Sussex, and later even further afield, wanted to stock our gin. We up-scaled with demand, increasing production from one day a week to five as we gained more customers. Thus the Gin Kitchen was born out of an idea, our love of gin, entrepreneurial spirit and of course our experiments with Juniper and other botanicals in Kate’s little kitchen.
What sets your business apart?
We are relatable and passionate and this shows through in our brand.
What is the concept behind your business or the problem you’re solving?
We wanted to make a gin that you could taste through the tonic, so we focussed on using high quality, fresh botanicals rich in essential oils. We love our gins and just happen to share them with other gin-lovers too.
Where to next/What is your brand vision?
We love sharing our passion for gin and wanted to make a destination for gin-lovers, which we have achieved. Our distillery is on a lovely farm in the Surrey Hills and we are slowly taking over the quirky little outbuildings and barns, converting them into production and storage areas and tasting rooms. Word is spreading and we hope to be exporting to the US and Far East soon.
Helen Muncie & Kate Gregory
Gin Kitchen Ltd
What do you feel passionate about/what
Sharing our joy through creating and collaborating with others.
Share an example of early life that has
Kate: My Grandparents lived in India and moved to England in the 1950s. My Grandad would put chilli pepper in the ketchup! Every time I visited my grandparents they cooked Indian Food, which I think fuelled my passion for adventurous food and certainly inspired me to try spicing up the Gutsy Monkey recipe. Helen: I was often told “You can’t do that, you’re a girl” which was confusing until I realised that if I just got on with doing what I wanted to then people eventually caught up.
Highlights of your business journey so far?
Kate & Helen: Launching Dancing Dragontail as Spirit of the Month at Fortnum and Mason. Each of our gins have that accolade now. We tend to get excited by everything though, like when Kylie Minogue re-tweeted one of posts.
Key lessons you have learned along the way?
Helen: Employ passionate people. You can train processes and procedures, but you can’t teach people to have passion. Kate: Cash is key! It’s so important to manage cash flow, but when you’re starting up you don’t have data on which to base your estimates, so double the cost estimate and halve the income estimate.
Best piece of advice you have received?
One of our friends suggested that we should design our bottles so they would look good on a shelf in a millionaires home!
Advice to an aspiring entrepreneur or woman just starting her career?
Have confidence and trust yourself. Always have a plan and do what the business can afford to do.
What funding route have you chosen for your business and why?
Self-funded, we invested what we would normally spend on other people’s gin in a year. Later, we used invoice factoring, credit cards and overdrafts, because at the time we didn’t want to relinquish control of our business by giving up capital. We’re now open to exploring other routes to help us grow.
Some of the challenges you have faced and how you overcame them?
Helen: We both had full-time careers and young children when we started out so when demand for our gin outstripped what we could produce, we hired Still Guardians to distill for us.Kate: The only supplier of our bottles was out of stock a month before Gutsy Monkey was due to be Spirit of the Month at Fortnum and Mason. We sourced a slightly different variant with swing top lids and used those for a while and no-one seemed to mind. Being agile and not losing our cool seems to work.
Why is it important to support women-led business?
We support any businesses that are run by passionate people but all-female teams in particular are under-represented and invested in. Female founders seem to be perceived as less experienced than our male counterparts who have similar or less years experience in the industry. Gender stereotypes are as common today as they were 30 years ago, which is why groups such as The Women’s Chapter are so important to us.