Science and Spirits
Looking back, the choice to create Lytham Gin was an obvious one for Sara Dewhurst, writes Tracy Hargreaves
At the age of 48 and after 24 years as a chemistry teacher, the last 10 as assistant head teacher at a school in Blackpool, Sara Dewhurst from Lytham St Annes, decided it was time for a change and gave it all up to try something new. She handed in her notice and bought a deli in Lytham, which she has run for over three years. But she soon found that making sandwiches and selling salads wasn’t enough and she was missing the science and the fun of experimenting she’d had in her teaching career. Sara, together with husband Paul, who used to specialise in manufacturing processes and systems at one of the largest food and beverage companies in the world, decided over Christmas 2017, to create their own gin and so Lytham Gin was born. In fact, they wonder why it took them so long to come up with the idea in the first place!
“Creating the business and learning about how to make gin with all the different styles and tastes gin has to offer has been one of the most interesting and exciting periods of our lives.” said Sara. “We don’t have any aspirations to be the new Hendricks, for us the most important thing is producing small batch gin with love and authenticity.”
Their company is called Sandgrown Spirits, which comes from the fact that Sara is a Sandgrown’un, (someone who is born and raised on the west of Lancashire), a beautiful part of north west England. “I wanted the company to have some connection with where I grew up and live, so it seemed the perfect name,” said Sara.
Before setting anything up, they did a lot of background research, spoke to people in the industry, got all the licences required by HMRC and with the local council in place. Sara started experimenting making the gin in their utility room in their home for six weeks before finding something they were happy with. “I’ve always liked gin since I was a teenager, much to my friends’ disgust,” said Sara. “I like gin to taste of gin, so it was important to get the flavour right. They should taste good with a good quality plain tonic, you don’t need to add any other flavours. My gins are all dry and full strength, at least 40 per cent ABV.”
In April last year Sara sold her first bottle and she hasn’t looked back. Lytham Gin is now mostly available and for sale through restaurants, bars and hotels in Lytham, Blackpool and rural Fylde. She has since moved production from her home to a converted outbuilding in Lytham, which allows her to produce more bottles and she now has five different gins under her belt.
“I purchased Edith (my still) from Portugal and it allows me to make batches of up to 120 bottles at a time. Demand is increasing all the time and there is still only me, Paul and occasionally a little help from mum and dad with the orders. It’s been an amazing few months and I’m looking forward to the coming year.” Already the gin is getting a name for itself, after her London Dry Gin was shortlisted in the Gin Guide as one of the best UK gins of 2018. Considering it had only been established for a few months, it was up against recognised gins in the market place which was an incredible achievement.
“We aren’t even a year old yet, so we are planning a party to celebrate our first birthday at the end of April and are developing some new, limited edition flavours.” Sara adds and her gins are also helping the community with a couple of them donating money to local causes.
About The Gins
The original London Dry Gin is a traditional juniper forward dry gin with lots of citrus from orange, bitter orange and kaffir lime leaves, some spice from liquorice and some heat from grains of paradise. It’s best served with plain tonic and lime or orange rather than lemon.
Blooming Gorgeous raises money for Lytham in Bloom and is a juniper led dry gin unlike many other pink gins on the market. It’s a pink gin for genuine gin lovers with hints of rose, hibiscus and apricot. Best served with a plain tonic and summer fruits.
A special gin Sara makes exclusively for Royal Lytham Golf Club has been made from botanicals on the golf course. “Where I can gather fresh botanicals I do, like the original London Dry Gin, Royal Lytham Gin contains marsh samphire which grows out on the Ribble Estuary and also yarrow which grows on the course.”
Positively Purple is another dry gin but with a magical colour changing botanical which means it turns pink when tonic is added. Blueberries and blackberries are distilled with the other more traditional botanicals to give the gin a slight fruity flavour and it’s best served with tonic and a slice of lemon or you could add some frozen blackberries too.
Sara has also produced a version of Positively Purple for Rotary Lytham which is only available through them called Passionately Purple. It is being sold to raise money for the End Polio Now campaign and has been really successful over Christmas and she is looking forward to continuing the relationship with them throughout 2019.
“I’m so excited about what the future holds. We want to move into bigger premises and eventually take on more staff, as well as continue to develop new gins. I never thought after a career in teaching I would now be running my own company using my chemistry skills to make gin!”
The gins retail at £36 and can also be purchased at Stringers in Lytham, Penwortham Farm Shop and Deli Le Roti