Stars of our TV advert: Owen and Gaslight Distillery
Owen Powell is an artisan gin maker, Founder and CEO of Gaslight Distillery.
👋🏼 Hello Owen!
What does Gaslight Distillery do?
We make radically different yet quintessentially traditional gins.
Our distilling process is unique – we use the power of vacuum so the delicate botanicals gently release their subtle flavours at room temperature, rather than the traditional method of being boiled.
That sounds unusual. What are the advantages of using the vacuum technique?
The ingredients we use are all natural botanicals including wild grasses and flowers. Boiling them at high temperatures for hours, as per the traditional method of distilling, destroys some of their most delicate oils.
By using the vacuum method, the botanicals gently release their oils at below room temperature and therefore produce a much fresher taste.
When did you start the Distillery? What motivated you?
We founded the company in 2016 – however it took two years to develop the recipes and complete all the legal requirements needed to operate a distillery.
It came about when I was made redundant from an office job that I didn’t enjoy. I decided I didn’t want to just do the same job at another company – instead, I wanted to make something with my hands. Something tangible, starting off with raw materials and creating a product that people loved and wanted to buy.
I started to think about the things I was sufficiently passionate about, that I might be able to turn into a career. I wrote down ‘gin’ down but realised I didn’t actually know how it was made. A bit of internet research later and I not only understood the basics of distilling but I also had an idea of how I might be able to do it a little differently – and to improve the end product!
Yes, spotting how to improve an existing design can often lead to a great idea for a business. Do you work full-time for Gaslight Distillery?
Yes. When I’m not distilling or delivering gin, or renovating our house, I’m looking after my daughter in between doing the nursery run. She’s just started nursery so I can now work in the mornings at least. Previously I could only really work in the evenings and weekends so it was more difficult to keep things moving.
Let’s talk more about artisan spirits. Whose work do you most admire?
The world of spirits is fortunate to be filled with industry giants like Simon Difford, Erik Lorincz and Tony Conigliaro but there are now also so many female influencers like Elana Lepkowski, Emily Arden Wells and Katie Stryjewski. They’re innovating and disrupting what was a very male-dominated industry.
I’ll have a look at their Instagram accounts. What’s your favourite aspect of your work?
You mean apart from sampling the end product? 😉
My favourite part of distilling is the smell of the botanical ingredients being prepared. The air and even my clothes become thickly fragranced with pine, citrus and spice.
Who would be your dream customer?
I’d love to have my gin on the menu at the American Bar in The Savoy, the oldest cocktail bar in the UK, which opened in 1893.
I reckon that dream could become reality fairly soon… What’s one thing you wish customers knew about making gin?
I love talking to customers about the amazing history of distilling in London. Many people don’t realise how much it influenced and shaped our capital’s social and economic landscape from the 1500s, right up to when the G&T was invented in the 1800s.
How has your business been affected by the coronavirus crisis?
My usual customers are bars and restaurants – they were closed during lock-down so I pivoted the business to sell directly to customers. I’ve been doing free, socially-distanced, doorstep deliveries across East London.
It’s still a very testing time for almost every industry but being able to talk to and thank my customers directly has been so enjoyable.
💡 We’re used to milk bottles being delivered to doorsteps – so why not gin?! Great idea. Do you have a tip for people like you thinking about starting their own small business?
I’d say always be nice. Even to other companies you might think of as competitors. Small businesses rely on co-operation and collaboration and, especially during these uncertain times, you’ll need all the help you can get from suppliers and customers.
We’re always trying to find new ways to support small businesses. How did you hear about Tide?
My first business account – which only lasted a few months – was one of the expensive High Street ones because I didn’t know any different.
When I saw advertising from Tide and saw how you’re doing things differently, more innovative and convenient – not to mention cheaper! – it was a no-brainer.
Exactly. Do you have a favourite Tide feature?
I love the way I always have access to my account via my phone in my pocket, and I can do everything with a few clicks on the app.
Time is the most valuable commodity to a small business owner so I love never having to spend time making phone calls or going to a branch.
How are you feeling about your business’s prospects for the coming year?
I don’t spend time worrying about things I can’t control. We are where we are. The businesses that will survive will be those that innovate and react quickly to the changing needs of their customers.
How will you be doing that? Do you have any plans you can tell us about..?
Well, we’re always trying to reduce the carbon footprint of our packaging so we’ll soon be offering an innovative, more sustainable way to get our gin out there. It’s cheaper for customers too! Watch this space…
Thanks for talking to us, Owen! Lots of luck for 2021 – we look forward to following Gaslight’s progress. 💙
Connect with Gaslight Distillery
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Photos by Rupert Mason, Sidekick Studios London