A modern family house in a quiet residential street in Harborough is perhaps the last place you might expect to find a gin distillery.
Yet that is the unassuming location in which Mark Gamble and his partner Lyn Taylor produce their award-winning range of Two Birds spirits.
Made in batches of 100 bottles at the couple’s home-made still, their range of gin, vodka and absinthe has earned plaudits from all quarters and now even graces the shelves of top London store Fortnum and Mason.
Known as Union Distillers, the business started after Mark, an engineer with a background in commercial catering equipment design, hand-crafted a copper still.
Production of the drinks is confined to a small room of their home, no bigger than most kitchens, with the couple keeping a separate warehouse for storage of packaging.
They experimented with different flavour ingredients – or botanicals as they are known in the industry – until they came up with Two Birds’ award-winning taste.
Lyn said: “We gave it to friends to try but we didn’t want to have big tasting panels or anything because you can come back with so many different opinions you’d never get anywhere. We made a gin that we like and others do too.”
With the first bottle produced earlier this year, the gin was a gold medal-winner at the Craft Gin Awards 2013 and won the silver outstanding medal at the International Wine and Spirit Competition.
“You do something you know you like but you’re never sure what others will think of it,” said Mark. “But the product really is first class.”
The couple, who also own a firm supplying vehicle tracking devices, believe the secret to the quality of their gin is the small still and the tight controls they put on the production process – the details of which remain a closely guarded secret.
Vodka and absinthe followed, and for the drinks industry what they believe could be the world’s first cocktail gin – a more flavourful spirit designed to avoid it becoming too diluted by mixers.
There are also plans for a Christmas vodka which, Lyn assures, tastes like a mince pie in a glass, and hedgerow vodkas and sloe gin.
The success of the fledgling business is also helping other firms in the area.
Its website was built by Codestring, based at Harborough Innovation Centre, from designs by Design Patch, owned by their son Simon.
He also designed the bottles, which are hand-decorated with organic inks, and gift packaging.
Zest Communications, also at the innovation centre, provides its social media services, while the drinks are stocked by a number of outlets in the area, including Duncan Murray Wines and the Boboli Italian restaurant in Kibworth.
For more information about the company visit www.twobirdsspirits.co.uk