After a week of moving coast-to-coast, settling into our new home and exploring the local area with the children, the real job began. Massingberd-Mundy Distillery Ltd had been registered as a company, and I had to design and create our distillery. The building had already been constructed in the garden of our new home, so I only had to worry about furnishing the distillery. The first task was to investigate all the licensing requirements and then spend time filling in the many forms correctly and following the local authority’s procedures. Once the paperwork was submitted, my next headache was to put together a vison of what I wanted the distillery and the brand to look like.
So many decisions had to be made. What company would I buy the still from and how big should it be? What about the bottling machine, the shape and design of the bottle and the labelling machine? Did I even need a labelling machine? I spent many sleepless nights with all these questions racing around in my brain. Through a thorough process of research and elimination, I finally settled on a bottle, a cork, a 120L still and all the equipment I wanted to furnish the distillery. So many decisions had to be made. What company would I buy the still from and how big should it be? What about the bottling machine, the shape and design of the bottle and the labelling machine? Did I even need a labelling machine?
I spent many sleepless nights with all these questions racing around in my brain. Through a thorough process of research and elimination, I finally settled on a bottle, a cork, a 120L still and all the equipment I wanted to furnish the distillery. With no internet access at the house yet, I disappeared to Costa in Horncastle to chain-drink flat whites and make the most of their wi-fi. Another customer overheard one of my many phone calls and we started chatting. It turned out that he knew a business which made bespoke stainless-steel work surfaces.
He put me in touch with Neil and we worked together to create custom work-tops, sinks, shelving and an island bench to fit our distillery. The first piece of the puzzle arrived in the shape of Isolde, a 10L test-still from DES Subotica of Serbia. I dived straight into mini test-distillations in my utility room using shop-bought base-alcohol. This was definitely my favourite part of the process and my time to shine as both distiller and creator.
I threw all my experience and knowledge into creating a rounded, well balanced and tasty recipe. Next to arrive was Neil with my steel work surfaces. They really made the distillery look like it was coming together and taking shape, and we keenly anticipated the arrival of Angelica, our hand-built, 120L copper-pot with a six-plate rectification column. Another purchase from DES Subotica, Angelica was lovingly built by some of Europe’s best coppersmiths. Her journey to the UK via the customs system was a long one but she finally arrived just before Christmas 2019. Angelica was delivered by DES Subotica’s UK representative, Anthony, who helped me to unpack and carefully assemble her and position her in her new home, proud and prominent at the heart of the distillery. Over a couple of bacon sandwiches and a coffee or three, we set up and ran Angelica’s maiden water-distillation to make sure that all was well. Happily, her long journey had caused no hidden damage and she was – and still is – perfect.
Next time, we’ll take a look at the choices and work that went into the stunning designs of our brand and bottles.
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