Try Surrey's newest gin - in a pop-up garden
- Credit: Batts Hills Distillers
Reigate is one of Surrey’s most celebrated towns. It has an impressive history comprising a priory and a castle. It has a bustling high street that not only attracts shoppers by day but also transforms into a thriving mix of eateries, craft ale establishments and traditional pubs after dark. There is a beautifully landscaped park that plays host to raft of sports and family-friendly activities. It even offers some of the best walking, cycling and views from the surrounding hills. But there was one thing this iconic Surrey town didn’t have… its own gin.
However, thanks to neighbours and buddies Delano Pienaar and Bradley Johannie, that has thankfully been put right with the introduction of Batts Hill Dry Gin which has been taking the local market by storm since its launch last autumn.
‘We have been friends for a while, we both love gin and trying new gins and then one evening, we thought, “Why not make our own?”, and so we did,’ says Bradley.
And the pair didn’t hang around. With the thought fresh in their minds, a small copper still was purchased and Delano began the process of producing the liquor. Luckily, as a professional chef, he had more than a little experience in creating and working with a mix of flavours and after studying various recipes and botanical combinations, the friends’ gin was born.
‘It was hard work. It required a lot of gin testing before we got it right,’ laughs Delano. ‘Yes, it was trial and error and yes, we ended up with a lot that could be used as hand sanitiser. We wanted to make something that was slightly different to reflect our personal gin tastes and eventually we got to a product that we both loved.’
The gin, which the boys describe as, ‘citrus on the nose, spice in the mouth’, is not typical of other gins as it is distilled from a sugar beet base and features macadamia nuts that they say ‘rounds the gin’, making it smooth enough to enjoy neat over ice.
Once the taste was decided up, all that was left to do was to come up with a name and find a market for their fledgling product.
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‘First and foremost, this is a local product created by mates,’ says Keata Murray, who, as a friend and experienced marketer, took on the task of bringing the gin to the public’s attention. ‘The name reflects the local area, straddling both Redhill and Reigate where we are from, and the tagline is “A taste of friendship” because that’s what it was born out of.’
To keep things as Reigate-based as possible, the team contacted local artist Lucinda Kidney who has created the gin’s wonderful ethereal branding that depicts a magical twilight world featuring the boys, the still and the garden filled with botanicals.
It's an imaginative scenario and one that has certainly caught the imagination of the Reigate gin-aficionados. Available to buy online or at various farmer markets across Surrey, by Christmas Batts Hill Gin had certainly arrived, with the team describing the festive period as ‘amazing’. The boys, encouraged by Keata, also embarked on a series of social media campaigns, launching their ‘Gin O’Clock’ cocktail Instagram live which, while not always going to plan, has helped to boost sales.
‘They are both great,’ enthuses Keata. ‘They are friends and its genuine. Sometimes the videos don’t go to plan but typically they are the ones that get most views. We are all learning and it’s fun and exciting.’
And even more exciting is that the team has partnered with independent retailer Sollo in Reigate High Street to create a magical weekend pop-up gin garden. It is a wonderful space, tucked away behind the boutique falling in the shadow of the nearby church’s stained glass windows. Bedecked in fairy lights and serving a mix of Batts Hills Gin-based cocktails, as well as food from Horley’s Feast & Frolic and Pilgrim Brewery beer, it is sure to be a summer hit.
‘It is great. Everything is going well and moving quite quickly. It is our gin and it is very exciting,’ says Bradley. ‘For us one of the main things is that we are local and we are supporting local.’
Delano comments: ‘We have got a lot of plans – we want to get Batts Hill Gin into pubs and restaurants and we are also launching a new gin, with cucumber and clementine flavours. The end goal is obviously our own distillery. But at the moment we are here - we have a commitment to the area and we are enjoying the support we are getting from our local community.’
‘We have come a long way from lockdown plans made after the children had gone to bed,’ adds Bradley. ‘If someone had told us this was going to happen this time last year, I don’t think I would have believed it.’
To find out more about Batts Hill Distillers or the pop-up gin garden, visit: battshilldistillers.co.uk