Gin. Shed 1 Distillery

Gin producer was possibly the least likely role that Andy Arnold-Bennett envisaged after his many years as a Shakespearian actor. But since late 2016 he and his wife Zoe have been producing ‘small batch, classically distilled with a contemporary style’ craft gin in the market town of Ulverston. 

It all started in a small garden shed at their home but size was no constraint on success. At the 2017 Great Taste Awards - the ‘Oscars of the food and drink industry’ - two stars were handed to the couple’s Cuckold’s Revenge. The gin was also ‘highly commended’ at the Craft Distillery Expo Gin of the Year Awards 2019-20, along with their Giggle in the Ginnel. 

Cuckold’s Revenge is now included in Ian Buxton’s book 101 Gins To Try Before You Die, the drink named after Master Frank Ford, a cuckolded character in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. Andy played him in 2016 while touring with the Halifax-based company, Northern Broadsides, ‘best known for Shakespeare in the northern voice’.

In 2020 Zoe and Andy moved their business into larger premises called The Old Calf Shed at Ulverston Auction Mart. This gives them more space for the distillery and shop, for tours and tastings, for gin experiences including Afternoon G&Tea and for weddings, the first marriage here held on October 24, 2020. The Old Calf Shed is currently on Indie Retail’s shortlist in its hunt for Britain’s Best Small Shop 2020. 

Never short of invention or of generosity, Shed 1 turned to making hand sanitiser during the first pandemic lockdown in 2020. And through their Marmalade Fund - topped up with money from the sale of Jelly Marmalade and from people returning empty bottles - the couple support a couple of local charities. In 2020 it was Furness Homeless Support Group and Cumbria Action for Sustainability.

The distillery was a finalist for Drinks Producer of the Year at the Cumbria Life Food and Drink Awards 2020 while its Festive Bramble Gin Elixir - ‘made with foraged blackberries, and organic heritage apples, grown in our friend’s orchard’ - was shortlisted in the Great British Food Awards 2020. 

‘Warm, rich and sophisticated in flavour. It manages to evoke all the romance of a crisp walk in the British countryside during autumn,’ said the judges who gave it 10 out of 10 for ‘Taste’ and five out of five for ‘Provenance’. The same elixir was one of Woman & Home’s Best Christmas Spirits for 2020. 

One accolade they’re especially proud of came at The Gin Guide Awards 2020 where they won the Environmental Sustainability (Small Producer) award. One reason was for the distillery’s ‘closed pump system’ which saves thousands of litres of water per distil. 

You could write a script for it. Professional actor meets special paint finisher-turned-teacher in South Korea, moves to Ulverston, starts a distillery in a garden shed, makes gins with names like Cuckold’s Revenge, Fancy Frolic, Chilli Fest and Shed Loads of Love, supports the community and wins heaps of awards. And hosts weddings too. Wonderful.

Shed 1 Distillery, The Old Calf Shed, North Lonsdale Road, Ulverston LA12 7JY: 07794699913, Buy online or from numerous independent shops. 

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