- Durham OnAir
Expansion at Durham based WL Distillery
It’s been two years since the first bottle of gin left WL Distillery and the County Durham based distillery have been shaking up quite a ginpire ever since with plans for future expansion set to be unveiled. In a short space of time the independent distillery made one almighty splash in the gin market, from picking up international awards, hitting top glossy magazines to being featured at London’s world-famous Science Museum.
WL Distillery released their award-winning 1st Edition Gin in September 2020, this was shortly after the newly launched distillery halted the production earlier in the year and switched production to sanitiser. Supporting organisations across the North East including foodbanks, Grace House, Sunderland Samaritans, schools and NHS staff at a time when the sanitiser was in short supply.
Since restarting production in 2020 the distillery has gone from strength to strength, and although 2021 remained uncertain, the team behind the award-winning 1st Edition Gin continued to innovate and the portfolio range grew to include limited edition festive and Valentine ranges alongside Wilson’s Gin Club ‘Watermelon and Liquorice’, increasing the range to six flavours.
Distilled in the North East from start to finish the gin is expertly monitored and created, by hand in the distillery. The distillery have bottled a number of prestigious industry awards including gold at The Gin Masters and were listed in the London Spirits Top 100 spirits. They made Vogues ‘Hot List’ and GQ’s ‘Cocktail Club’, and saw the festive range stocked in Fenwick, ahead of setting up their own shop at the previous Newcastle STACK site.
Their community support during the COVID-19 pandemic saw the Founder and Managing Director Scott Wilson-Laing pick up a Business Hero Award and selected to be one of the 2,022 batonbearers for England as part of The Queen's Baton Relay in the summer.
A sample of hand sanitiser produced and equipment used by WL Distillery was acquired by the Science Museum Group as part of its COVID-19 Collecting Project. The hand sanitiser joined other historic items in the collection in London to provide insights into the medical and scientific advancements of the last two years. The project provides a permanent record for future generations of medical, scientific, industrial, cultural and personal responses to the outbreak and chronicling its impact on society.
Scott Wilson-Laing Founder and Managing Director, WL Distillery said:
“We have been on an incredible journey and are delighted with the growth of the company to date. Receiving leading industry awards in such a short period of time really helped cement the brand as a strong player in the ever-growing gin market, demonstrating that the spirits we are making are the kind that bar managers and mixologists want to stock.
I am in awe of the opportunities I’ve been nominated for around the sanitiser production we were involved in during the pandemic, from the opportunity to be a batonbearer to knowing our story will be known to generations to come at the Science Museum, it really was a pinch me moment.”
As the distillery raises a glass to their second year in business, the team have unveiled plans to ramp up expansion. Further investment and site acquisition at their County Durham based site will assist in expanding their product portfolio and developing their export growth strategy to support further accelerated growth.
“The new site will see us expand our operations to enable us to continue to make our award-winning gins. The introduction of a larger still and an enhanced storage area will enable us to launch a variety of new and exciting spirits making us one of only a hand full of distilleries within England doing so.
Pre-orders for these will be released in the next few months. The expansion will also enable us to increase our workforce creating skilled jobs within the region in a very exciting and dynamic industry.”
With an explosion of flavours, their inspiration comes from their Northern roots, ensuring a fresh and classic authentic gin experience for customers. Ingredients have always taken centre stage at WL Distillery and each bottle is infused with nature using handpicked and measured botanicals to ensure the freshest, most authentic taste.
“With interest for our gins coming from other countries this expansion will also enable us to explore exporting our products to other areas outside of the UK. The demand for our gin continues to be strong and the further developments over the coming months mark another really exciting chapter for the company.”