A “SCUFFLE in a nativity” at a German army camp school cost Wrecclesham’s Chris Lloyd his sense of smell. But the local man’s sense of taste more than makes up for it, if his gin is anything to go by.
Having set up a distillery in his parents’ garage workshop last November, demand for Chris’ London dry-style Heathland Gin is spiralling.
Last weekend he single-handedly distilled and home-delivered 16 bottles to homes across the local area – his biggest outgoing yet. And Chris, aged 31, now hopes to push that number up to around 50 bottles per week, retailing at £27.50 each.
Chris charts his interest in alcohol production back to his time as a student at Farnham College, when he opted to study English vineyards as a topic for his business studies project.
Various aborted projects to brew beer and produce wine followed, alongside a decade-long battle with depression and a pressure-packed job as a surveyor in the Ministry of Defence.
Until finally, last November, Chris took the plunge as a full-time gin distiller.
He has received great support from his local pub, The Bear and Ragged Staff, in Wrecclesham, which helped him gain his licence and stocked his gin before going into lockdown – as well as the Farnham Rants community on Facebook.
And although he is not allowed to reveal the result, he has also won plaudits from the Gin Guide Awards for the heather-infused floral aromas of his gin, which also benefits from the citrus zingyness of hawthorn berries.
Chris says these flavour combinations were inspired by dog walks across local heathland in Frensham and beyond – but he puts it mostly down to instinct.
“I just picture things in my head coming together, and they seem to work quite well – and everyone seems to like it.
“It’s like a hobby that’s gone out of control very quickly. The whole thing has been a bit of a whirlwind and it’s touching to see how much generosity there is in Farnham and the surrounding areas.”
* For your chance to win a bottle of Heathland Gin, distilled in Wrecclesham,
and assorted tonics, simply email your answer to the below question to
Question: Which Wrecclesham pub gave Chris his big break?
T&Cs: All entries (one per email address) must be received by 5pm on Wednesday, June 3. Competition open to those aged 18 and over only.