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Let’s just Gin and bear it

My husband, Rob and I were raised on our family farms’ so we always knew farming would feature heavily in our futures.Some 6 years ago we built our own home on my parents farm in Inglewhite, here my Dad, Mum, brother and Rob work tirelessly on our 600-acre farm milking a dairy herd of 450 Holsteins.

Lizzie Billington of Wild Fox Distillery
Lizzie Billington of Wild Fox Distillery

My working career was spent within the dairy industry in new product development, something which was much more than a job.

 

I have a real passion for creating new products which meet consumer ever changing needs but most importantly keeping ‘real produce’ at the heart of each new line.

 

For as long as I can remember Gin & Tonic was the staple ‘after milking drink’ for my parents which was then passed on to us. Gin was not trendy nor where there hundreds to choose from, it was simply a high-quality spirit enjoyed with tonic, ice and a slice.

 

It was our love for good Gin that first sparked the idea to put my experience to good use and develop our own ‘Farm to Bottle’ Gin. With a wealth of fruits and botanicals growing on the farm and surrounding hedge rows it was a no brainer to put them to good use.

 

With all our trials done and new distillery housed we where ready to go, all we needed was a brand name, Wild Fox Distillery was not a hard choice. We have two little red headed feral farm kids who have always been our own wild fox’s and without their arrival which changed my outlook on life, the Gin would never have been born.


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We launched our first Gin, Ivy’s Signature, on the 6th April 2019 and we haven’t looked back since.

 

With great reviews flooding in, our Gin was getting out there. We started to develop a strong ever-growing customer base, selling online and stocking various farm shops and independent retailers.

 

Being able to offer full traceability on all our spirits produced was something we were finding the public wanted more and more. I started to grow more botanicals here on the farm and also discover new ones that have existed here since our family bought the farm in 1932.

 

Social media, love it or hate it, plays such a big part in any business. With a growing audience I decided to not only promote our Gin range on our platforms but use them for recording every day snippets of how fantastic British farm life is. We get really good feedback on our ‘farm life’ posts, especially ones which feature our girls who are one hundred percent little British farming advocates!

 

Since April 2019 we have launched 2 seasonal Gins, Ivy’s Orchard Summer Berry Gin and The Holly and The Ivy Spiced damson Gin, using the fruits which come and go seasonally in the orchard.

 

In January this year, we launched a second all year-round Rhubarb and Elderflower Gin named ‘Blushing Vixen’. Blushing Vixen pays homage to British farming with the bottle being backed full of what our farm and other British farms has to offer. The Gin features a ‘Backing British farming’ swing tag proudly around the bottle neck, in a bid to keep positivity high for our wonderful nation of farmers.

Confident that the distillery diversification was growing stronger roots we decided to go for it and make plans to expand heavily in 2020, then Covid_19 hit.

 

Along with that we saw the closures of almost all of the hospitality sector – some sixty percent of our business.

 

Initially it was bleak to say the least, cancelled orders, unpaid invoices and no way it seemed of recouping our losses.

 

Then, almost overnight we saw the most remarkable shift in the nations shopping habits. More people shopping local and therefore independents boomed.

 

Farm shops adapted extremely quickly and started local and national delivery services, we all pulled together and we are absolutely determined to come out the other side of this stronger.

 

We are still a long way off recouping our hospitality loss, but what we are seeing in peoples shopping habits is encouraging.

 

Our farm, like many others, have been hit too. We are seeing feed and bedding prices rise and regionally milk and meat prices are dropping. The time for change is now, support your local producers, utilise your local milk man, seek out independent retailers and together keep our economy strong.

You can buy Wild Fox Gin at www.wildfoxdistillery.co.uk

 

Orders via email to spirited@wildfoxdistillery.co.uk – will receive 15% discount quoting Farmers Guardian.

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