March 2020 was an interesting one. More or less overnight, our distillery went from a place bustling with people, customers, and guests in for a tasting, to looking more like a distribution centre with boxes piled high, full of gin tasting kits and internet orders.
It was a quick, easy decision for us to convert our tastings to online events and the team met the challenge head on, producing hundreds of online gin tasting sets in a matter of days. Bookings came flooding in from all over the country as birthdays, team building days, events and celebrations were cancelled.
It was quite an adjustment, but we are still basically doing exactly what we love and exactly what we are good at…. Talking about gin, and drinking gin. Our new medium of Zoom, Teams and Meets, lead to some technical issues early on, but very quickly became as familiar and comforting as stroking an old dog.
We feel that our virtual tastings have allowed us to meet and get to know so many more people than we would have by just doing physical tastings when regulations allowed. We are thankful to have met the bankers in London, the recruitment consultants in Cardiff, and the birthday celebrations from Liverpool. Its been a great experience to meet all these people, who would never have been able to make it down to the distillery, to share a few laughs, a few anecdotes and a few gins.
The switch to online tastings has also given the distillers the chance to wear a Brittany Spears microphone, and dress the top half as business and the bottom half as beachwear. A rare privilege in any profession. We have also been able to conduct the tastings from in front of our main still, “Karen from Accounts”, which is situated in our Customs Warehouse and is usually off limits to all but a select few.
Labelling thousands of miniature bottles has probably been the greatest challenge, but it is all worthwhile, when you meet the guests online and find that one of them has already finished all his gins and another decides that he will try Turbo Island Edition without the recommended portion of tonic.
Though we relish the chance to welcome guests back into the distillery, we will definitely miss the mute button, and the fact that we don’t have to wash and polish all the glasses, but will be keeping the beachwear. As restrictions are relaxed, we hope to be providing hybrid tastings with both a group in the distillery, and online guests, as we know there will still be people nervous about mixing in larger groups but still want to join their friends of family.