A COASTAL distillery which opened its doors during the pandemic is hoping it will be just the tonic for the hard-hit hospitality industry in north Essex.

East Coast Distillery saw a former milking parlour at Landermere Farm, near Thorpe-le-Soken, converted into a distillery in a bid to make handcrafted gins with local passion and flavour.

It is run a stone’s throw from the beautiful Walton Backwaters by Ben Mann and business partner Nicole North, her husband Simon, and Ben’s wife Lucy.

The gin is distilled in small batches using their still – called Monty - and uses local botanicals, infusing the gin with the fortune of the east coast.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

Still - the tipples are created in 'Monty' the gin still

Their signature gin Tide’s Fortune has proved popular with local people and is already sold in the trendy Milsoms restaurants in Dedham and Harwich, as well as the celebrated The Bicycle restaurant in Tendring village.

But the couples are now hoping to expand their product into even more local venues.

Ben said: “We opened in lockdown and our original business model was to work with hotels, bars and restaurants, but they’d all shut - it was horrendous timing.

“In a lot of ways for us it was good, it made us look at the community – and we’ve developed good links with them and we’re more established with people who buy bottles for themselves and their friends.

“Now we want to do something that mutually benefits us and hotels and bars.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

Cheers - a customer enjoys a Tides Fortune gin

“There’s such a drive now to have a provenance on a product - people know where they come from and want to use local produce.

“We think it will be good for our sales and our local venues.

“We’re now looking at hosting a special event for those involved in local hospitality to come and meet us.”

The distillery launched a second gin – Elder Pear Dry – last autumn, which is packed with local ingredients.

It includes pears from Park Fruit Farm in Great Holland, honey from Knights Farm in Tendring Green as well as locally-foraged coastal alexanders.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

Taste - Ben Mann prepares a refreshing gin

“We want to be as authentic as possible and make gins that we would drink,” added Ben.

“We don’t want to chase the trends, so haven’t gone for things like pink gins – we like the drier gins.

“It’s about celebrating the Essex coast,” Ben added.

A distillery tour and gin tasting event exclusively for local hospitality businesses in north Essex will take place on Monday, April 4.

To book a place, go to eastcoastdistillery.co.uk/open-day.