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Hensol Castle Distillery on track to more than double turnover

(l-r) Chris Leeke, managing director and Dai Wakely, master distiller of Hensol Castle Distillery

The contract bottling arm of Hensol Castle Distillery is on track to more than double its turnover by the end of 2022, as it expands its storage facilities with the lease of a new warehouse.

Contract bottling, which represents 80% of the distillery’s revenue, has doubled year-on-year from a turnover of £1.2 million (excluding duty) in its financial year (April-March) 2020/21 to £2.5 million last year (2021/22), and is expected to reach £4.3m in the current year (2022/23).

To support the growing demand for the distillery’s services, the business has signed a five-year lease on a 20,000 sq ft off-site warehouse in Talbot Green, adding to its onsite bonded warehouse of 18,000 sq ft. This means it now has the capacity to store more than 3,000 pallets or IBC (intermediate bulk containers) of finished spirits for its customers.

Contract bottling involves providing a range of services to drinks manufacturers – from product bottling to full product development, procurement, blending, branding and packaging. Hensol Castle Distillery currently produces just under 900 different SKUs (stock keeping unit) of spirit drinks, alongside more than 50 UK brand owners, distributing to countries such as the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland and France.

Chris Leeke, managing director of Hensol Castle Distillery, said: “Our contract bottling service has really taken off since we launched in 2019. We doubled our turnover in the last year and we’ve just reached the milestone of bottling our 2.5 millionth bottle. In order to keep up with demand, we’ve introduced a second daily shift and increased our staff to 37 full-time and five part-time across production, administration and accounting.

“Securing this additional warehouse space is key to our future growth as it means we can expand production greatly and store our clients finished product under bond, providing them with significant cash flow benefits. This enables them to order well in advance to get ahead of the industry shortage of glassware and the rising costs of production.”

Under the watchful eye of master distiller, Dai Wakely, many of the drinks that Hensol Castle Distillery has helped blend and develop have gone on to scoop 45 awards at UK and international spirit competitions, including the Spirits Business Gin Masters.

Chris Leeke continued: “We’re very proud to offer our clients a complete grain to glass service – offering them help with recipe development all the way through to production and delivery, and we’re thrilled that so many of these have gone on to be award-winning.”

Hensol Castle Distillery is the only UK-based distillery in a 17th century castle and is South Wales’s first full-scale gin and spirits distillery and contract bottling plant. Since starting production in spring 2019, it has launched an on-trade collection of gins and vodkas as well as Trulo – its market-defining range of reduced calorie alcoholic drinks.

The two latest additions to the distillery’s range, launched in February this year, are Wild Strawberry and Hibiscus and Blood Orange Zest. These have already made the awards podium, both winning Silver Medals at the recent London Spirits Competition. The distillery’s Hensol Castle Welsh Dry Gin, which launched at the end of 2021, won a gold medal at the Spirits Business Awards.

Hensol Castle Distillery’s range is now available throughout restaurants, pubs and bars in South Wales, including the Hardwick, Pasture and the Potted Pig restaurants, and it has struck sponsorship deals with Cardiff City Football Club and Glamorgan Cricket to become the official gin supplier of both clubs.

Last September 2021, the distillery opened its visitor experience following a multi-million pound investment. As part of the tour, visitors can see the distillery in operation, learn about the history of gin and Hensol Castle, enjoy a gin tasting and a gin and tonic at the end of the tour. In the Gin School, visitors can distil and label their very own 70cl bottle of gin using ingredients of their choice.