The Leekes Retail & Leisure Group, owners of Leekes, the Vale Resort and Hensol Castle in south Wales, have become the sole owners of Hensol Castle Distillery following a buy-out of the minority shareholder.
Original investors, father and son duo Andy and Rhys Mallows, have sold their 25% shareholding of the distillery to the group, which already owned the remaining share, to pursue their ambition of starting a family-owned business.
The distillery is located in the cellars of the 17th century, Grade I listed Hensol Castle, which has already been transformed into a popular wedding and conference venue, following a multi-million pound investment in 2015.
Hensol Castle Distillery, which started production in spring 2019, has enjoyed a successful initial 24 months of trading, handling an ever-growing order book for contract bottling and launching an on-trade range of Benjamin Hall gin and vodka and an award-winning Crawshay collection of gins. During the height of the pandemic last year, it also launched TRULO – a reduced calorie range of liqueurs, which have done especially well as people have enjoyed their homemade ‘quarantinis’ during lockdown, with almost 100,000 bottles sold in total in 2021 so far.
During the initial Covid-19 outbreak in spring last year, production of its own branded alcohol ranges stopped as the distillery focused efforts on making much-needed alcohol-based hand sanitiser to help protect people from the virus.
New managing director of Hensol Castle Distillery, Christopher Leeke, said: “These are exciting times for the distillery. Our contract bottling division is extremely busy with new enquiries arriving weekly, while our own brands are gaining in popularity via retail outlets throughout the UK, particularly our exciting market defining TRULO range.
“The ‘gin-aissance’ shows no signs of abating, as it continues to be a popular tipple among us Brits. According to the Wine and Spirits Trade Association, 75 million bottles of gin were sold in 2020, 10 million extra bottles compared to the same period in 2019.”
Hensol Castle Distillery is also set to become a flagship tourism destination with a visitor experience, tasting bar and gin school, which will enable visitors to distil a bespoke bottle of gin made to their own specific tastes. This is gearing up to open this September – 18 months after it was originally meant to launch in March 2020, before the initial lockdown.
Christopher Leeke continued: “Our plans to open the visitor experience, tasting bar and gin school were scuppered by the pandemic, so we are now eagerly awaiting the lifting of restrictions so that we can finally showcase our exceptional distillery to the public.
“We have invested heavily in creating a first-class visitor experience that is designed to educate and delight in equal measures and, judging by the forward ticket sales, it appears that the public are just as excited as we are about it.”
The 400-year old Hensol Castle Distillery sits in more than 650 acres of parkland and is part of the successful four-star Vale Resort – an award-winning spa, golf, conference and hotel complex.