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From garden shed to gin palace

Local business woman Kate Griffin celebrated an incredible journey yesterday (11/02/2022) at the launch event at her business, Wessex Spirits new home The Gin Palace (The Lamb Inn).

The event was well attended including Test Valley Borough Council leader Cllr Phil North and local MP Kit Malthouse. Kit congratulated Kate and said “It was 5 years ago that I was walking around the Amport fete and came across this charming woman with some gin. It was a lovely afternoon and we had a nice long conversation that you were fed up with teaching and you had this idea that you would start messing around with gin in your Grandad’s his annexe. I thought good for her and I bought a bottle, and was one of the very first customer’s. I wasn’t sure what would happen next but scroll forward 5 years and here we are.

“I’m sure you all know the roller coaster journey it has been but what a huge success it has been as well. So I wanted to add my congratulations to you Kate, not just building a business, but being a female entrepreneur.”

A delighted Kate said at the event “I didn’t expect to be here 5 years ago. But with the support of everyone and so many people blew me away, from local businesses to the local community. That’s why I am here I guess. Thank you all for coming, welcome to the Gin Palace feel free to have a look around.”

Wessex Spirits is coming up for it’s 5th birthday and it’s been an eventful 5 year journey that started in Kates Grandad’s garden annexe and has led to the gorgeous 17th century coaching inn in Andover town centre.

Former secondary English teacher Kate started making gin in February 2017 from the garden annexe of her Grandad’s house in a small village just outside of Andover. Kate initially planned to launch the one product; Test Valley Gin. Instead of going back to teaching, Kate launched her second gin; Spire Gin at the end of 2017 and has gone on to produce around 8 of her own brand gins and bespoke gins for her clients.

2018 saw her move to her own commercial premises in Andover – the original Gin Palace. Kate’s first small tasting room was created there. From this Kate loved hosting tasting events. Kate said “It was a surprise but I absolutely loved hosting the tasting events. They are very light hearted and like the business as a whole, not really about the gin, more about bringing friends and family together to share time and experiences.”

The tasting room had room for hosting just 6-8 people. With the bespoke gin becoming more popular, Kate was running out of space. Then the old Lamb Inn became available and Kate jumped at the opportunity. With going from a tiny space to a huge space there was a lot of room that needed to be used. Kate added “We had this enormous space and thought what should we do with it and the answer was clear, as Tim at The Andover Tap to come and join us. It was a match made in heaven as we both share similar values with supporting local producers and serving the community.”

Kate and Tim had worked together previously so knew they could make a successful collaboration. After getting the keys in September 2021 the beautiful 17th century building was given the love and care it so desperately needed and open it’s doors again in November 2021. Tim has created a brilliant community hub that offers a brilliant environment and brilliant locally crafted beers. Wessex spirits have some brilliant rooms for up to 30 guests and offer a brilliant gin tasting experience. Kate also makes her gin on site too. Find out more at www.wessexspirits.co.uk