Welsh castle to get distillery

Bottlers and Distillers Wales has joined forces with the Vale Resort to construct a distillery and visitor experience at Hensol Castle in South Wales as part of a £7m investment in the 17th century castle.

Set to open this autumn, the project will encompass a distillery, bottling plant, bonded warehouse, visitors experience centre, restaurant and gin school alongside the development of a Hensol Castle branded portfolio and a white labelling function.

The company, trading as Hensol Castle Distillery, will bring the Leeke family, who own The Vale Resort and Leekes, together with the Mallows family from Cowbridge, who own Bottles and Distillers Wales. Vale Resort directors, Stephen Leeke and Mike Fowler, are joined by father and son team, Andy and Rhys Mallows, to form the new board.

A former filming location for popular television dramas Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes and Torchwood, the Grade I listed building will feature a distillery in the basement producing a selection of entry-point, mid-level and premium-quality gins, vodkas and other spirits including a low sugar, low calorie and low ABV range.

The ambition is for these to be available in local pubs and restaurants as well as leading supermarkets, wholesalers and cash and carry outlets, with the distillery expected to create 120 new jobs over the next three years.

Managing director of the Vale Resort, Stephen Leeke, said: “This is a hugely exciting development at the Vale Resort and another critical step forward in the overall redevelopment of the historic Hensol Castle.

“The distillery experience set in a beautiful Grade I listed building will be something totally unique, not just in Wales but globally. It is a key part of our strategy for the re-development of Hensol Castle and its destination restaurant, which will focus on the very best of Welsh food and drink.

“We’re confident the distillery and restaurant will attract local trade as well as national and international visitors, and we will be working closely with Visit Wales, the Vale of Glamorgan Council, and other local attractions to bring new markets to the area. It will provide another compelling reason for tourists to visit south Wales, helping to drive the overall economy of the region.”

Director of Bottles and Distillers Wales, Andy Mallows, added: “I’ve been working in the alcohol trade industry for most of my life, and it’s clear that craft spirits, and gin in particular, are booming – some are even calling it a ‘gin-aissance’.

“Obviously, we want to capitalise on this trend, ensuring our spirits are within an arm’s reach of consumers within the Wales market.

“The joint venture has the perfect blend of skills and experience. The Vale Resort provides years of tourism expertise of running one of Wales’ preeminent resorts while I have spent 25 years selling global brands such as Budweiser, Bacardi and Jack Daniels, before becoming managing director of Dutch distillery, Toorank. We all complement each other’s skill set to create a unique business proposition.”

As well as taking a tour of the distillery, learning about the history of gin and participating in a gin tasting, visitors will also have the opportunity to distil their own unique bottle of gin.

The production facility, gin school and visitor experience centre will open this autumn.

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