A small gin distillery in Bowes is making a big name for itself, writes James Cracknell
Close to the North Circular in Bowes is a pretty mews of small Victorian buildings today used as offices for local businesses. It is in this unique setting that you will find the distillery of Old Bakery Gin, the best-selling gin at Harrods – and also now at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The rapid rise of Old Bakery Gin to becoming one of Enfield borough’s most famous exports is remarkable. It was only six years ago that owner Ian Puddick bought the site – not to make gin, but as a home for his plumbing firm. Ian’s ‘other’ business Leakbusters remains his day job, with gin-making still something he describes as “a glorified hobby”.
That may soon be about to change, with the recent purchase of a new still enabling Old Bakery Gin to produce up to 1,200 bottles of gin per day, compared to 300 per week with their existing equipment. At the moment they are still waiting to obtain a licence to use it, however. “It’s like having a Ferrari and not being allowed to drive it,” says Ian, “but hopefully it should get licensed any moment now.”
Drastically boosting the capacity of the distillery should allow Ian to finally pack in the plumbing and focus on Old Bakery Gin as his full-time job: “We’re plumbers by trade and Leakbusters has funded the cost of setting up the gin business, but if I could give it up tomorrow, I would.”
And although he wants Old Bakery Gin to become a favourite among gin drinkers across the country, Ian does not want to compromise his brand by selling to supermarkets or by making fancy flavours. Instead he’ll continue selling to independent shops.
“The gin market has changed in the last few years, now you’ve got rhubarb and custard gins and colour-changing gins, and people are asking us what different flavours we do, but it’s not what we’re about.
“We make one gin and we do it really well.”
The incredible story of how Old Bakery Gin first came into being is one that has been told on the BBC, Channel 4, and via many other media outlets, but it’s one that Ian never tires of telling.
“A hundred years ago this was an old bakery with a grain store. Next door was a stables, the horse-and-cart delivery service for the bakery. When we moved in there was a chimney between the buildings but it was unsafe and we had to take it down. Then we got into a legal dispute over who owned the chimney.
“As the lawyers looked at the history of the place they found out that the people who ran the bakery had also been making illegal gin here. I tracked down the last descendent of the bakers and I managed to set out the gin recipe from him. We are resurrecting what was the original gin – but now it’s legal!”
Ian’s distilling team includes his dad, Ron, whose face adorns the labels. They have also recently made their first-ever batch of rum – and the Dispatch can confirm that it tastes exquisite.
Fortunately for Enfield residents, Old Bakery Gin is easy to find. It is sold at several local shops and pubs, including Little Green Dragon in Winchmore Hill, Claude W Dennis in Southgate, My Time in Palmers Green, and Forty Hall Farmers Market.