60 Seconds With…Sam Robinson at Raw Honey Distillery
A stone’s throw from Fetcham Park is an exciting new gin distillery. Founded in 2021 by Sam Robinson, the Raw Honey Distillery is the UK’s first honey distilled spirit line with sustainability at its heart.
There are two varieties currently available: Gin with a hint of zesty raspberry honey and gin with a hint of kaffir lime and orange peel. A The tamper seal on the bottles is extracted from wood pulp and is fully biodegradable – simply pop it in a food waste bin and it degrades in 12 weeks, and every bottle includes a packet of wildflower seeds.
We catch up with Sam to find out more…
FP: How did you get into distilling gin?
SR: I used to work at Silent Pool in the summer in-between years at Newcastle University, where I studied chemistry. In my second year I wanted to be a distiller when I finished, but ended up on a different path making wine around the world for a couple of years. Then the opportunity came up to start the distillery and I ended up where I wanted to be 4-5 years earlier!
FP: What’s unique about your product?
SR: We make some of our own alcohol from honey. We make mead and then triple distil it, adding our botanicals in the third distillation run. The honey-based spirit as our starting point will extract and interact with botanicals differently compared to a normal grain alcohol starting point. For us, it adds a slightly creamy texture and undertones of dulce de leche/butterscotch. There’s a few places in the US that make spirits from a honey starting point, but as far as we know we’re the first to do it (make alcohol from honey and distil into gin) in the UK.
FP: What brought you to establish the distillery in Fetcham?
SR: I currently distil out of my parent’s garage who live in Fetcham, but I also noticed how other local places have a gin in their town and thought one would suit Fetcham nicely!
FP: Who or what inspires you?
SR: I’ve been trading at lots of farmers’ markets recently and have bought some food from other producers and I’ve been blown away by how good it is! It’s made me want to be able to give that feeling to customers when they try our gin!
FP: Where do you see the business in 5 years’ time?
SR: I see the business being in a larger site where people can come and visit and do tours and tastings. I’d like to have an extensive range of spirits made using different techniques and be my best effort and interpretation of the style. I’d really like that experience to take people on the journey about how a certain flavour profile is achieved and when certain things are changed what the outcome then looks like. The prime example is whether it’s grain alcohol or our own honey spirit interacting with the botanicals.
FP: What’s been the most satisfying and challenging part of starting the business?
SR: The most challenging part was definitely the set-up, from gaining various licenses to produce and sell, to storage and organisation of equipment!
The most satisfying/rewarding part has just been the feedback and support. You never really know what people are going to think of a product until you put it out there. When I made it I knew I liked it and thought it was good, and so did friends, but putting it out there is a complete unknown!
FP: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
SR: It was more a production piece of advice I received from the winemaker whilst I was working in South Africa and everything I’d learned clicked from there. There’s no magic bullet to make your product 10% better than the competition. You’re looking for 10 things in your process to be 1% better and that strive to make small improvements (once all the major gains have been taken care of!) and attention to detail has really stuck with me.
To find out more about Raw Honey Distillery visit rawhoneydistillery.com