It’s been a long while since I put pen to paper. Preferring Tom’s tales from the road and, lately, his thoughts on lockdown have been far more entertaining, but I guess I also have a lot to add whilst steering our family business into a ‘new normal’ (I hate that phrase).

‘Normal’ hasn’t really happened for us at Brindle Distillery; we haven’t had a smooth run at really driving this brand forward yet. Be it issues with a neighbour and thus the local council in our first year; an out of the blue and traumatic year personally for myself, Liz and the family in our second year, with Liz now thankfully on the right side of cancer treatment and now our third year, which we started with the best of intentions, has been stalled by this dreaded virus. In the bigger picture, its times like these that will put lots into perspective for everyone, a time when health is wealth (as always!) and day to day life has generally slowed down. However, I’m sure we have all had our ups and downs over the past two months in lockdown, both personally and in business, which can certainly put a strain on us all.

So, what have I been up to during this time other than filming videos of Big Tom making cocktails, packing and distributing bottles of gin and generally trying to keep us ticking over?

Liz and I celebrated our daughter’s 2nd birthday in lockdown. I’ve loved spending more precious time with Olive – what a couple of years she’s had to the start of her life! However sadly, two days later, we attended the funeral of my Grandad Derek who sadly passed away during this period where we can’t comfort our loved ones. How horrible for families and friends that at this time of distancing, if you don’t live with the person, then you can’t offer physical comfort. We all need a big hug now and again, right?  My thoughts go out to those losing loved ones long before their time during this pandemic or indeed at any time.  Grandad had tested positive for Covid-19 whilst in hospital for other reasons, however it was another awful disease, Alzheimer’s, that had sadly got the better of him. However, it truly is a blessing he is no longer suffering and, in truth, he was a true gentleman who wouldn’t have wanted much fuss. Wheelton, the village where I live and next door to Brindle, has really come together in the last couple of months and as many of you would have seen on our social channels, our Liz has been putting her talent to good use and singing a few songs after the 8pm claps for the NHS on a Thursday, accompanied by our talented neighbour, Henry. From the Beatles to Disney’s The Little Mermaid, it’s been really lovely to see people of all ages enjoying the power of music and community during this distressing time.

As time goes by, we await further instruction from the government (however vague!) on when we can start slowly opening up our Cuckoo space again. We miss it massively; the community, seeing people relaxing with family and friends and our fabulous bar team enjoying their work. Plans are in discussion about how we can offer a service that keeps both customers and staff safe but also provides escapism for an evening. It may involve food too!

Also, a few new products have launched online this Spring; our Vodka, which really celebrates the fresh spring water that we use from our own aquifer on the farm and also, our bottled cocktails made by Big Tom, which are amazing! The Negroni is a personal favourite and goes down very well in my house. Has anyone else been drinking a bit too much?!

A quick note to make sure that you keep hold of your empty Cuckoo 70cl bottles as we now offer a refill service in the distillery. For the time being, we will be opening the distillery doors every Saturday from 9am to 4pm so you can take advantage of the refill station and the distillery shop.. We have also been busy updating our website to make our shopping and booking systems flow better and we have added some more information about the team and the distillery. Thanks as always to our mate Graham Walker, who continues to provide excellent brand design and vision.

And finally, a huge thank you for your continued support, which has been truly amazing. We are extremely lucky to have such a great community and fantastic customers and we hope that the quality of the product and our service lives up to your expectations.

Hope to see you soon and please look after each other,

Mark