If you’ve been to the distillery over the last couple of weeks, you’ll have spotted that we’ve finally broken ground on our new visitor centre and it’s well underway! Behind some rather stylish hoardings work is continuing apace, with the roof structure now up and the beautiful Cotswolds stone chimneys starting to take shape.
The project has been on the cards for a while now – right from the start we discovered we were receiving rather more guests than we’d anticipated, even back in 2015 when we got 7,000 visitors. We now get somewhere in the region of 30,000 visitors to the distillery each year and everyone’s been incredibly understanding about our somewhat ‘cosy’ facilities and lack of café. But it was clear that with so many people making the trip out to see us (often from far away or navigating some pretty complex country-lane-sat-nav challenges) we needed to offer them a more comfortable experience.
We had a look at what we wanted to be able to offer here and what we could fit in around the busy production process. One interesting thing about the project is that it isn’t about driving up visitor numbers; we’re intending to offer the same number of tours, with the same number of places in each tour group – we really don’t want to lose the immersive element of the tour, in which you can see and smell it all in action, up close. But obviously each time we bring a group into the distillery building, it interrupts the production process and we have to manage that very carefully. So we decided it would instead be better to keep the same number of tour visitors, but give them more space and time in their visit – interesting things to look at before the tour begins, somewhere to have a cup of coffee and some cake afterwards.
Back in January we submitted an extremely long and complicated application to the Rural Development Programme for England for a grant towards the cost of building the new centre – we’re very lucky that in this area there is lots of activity and funding to encourage the development of rural business and to support tourism. And we were delighted to find out in April our application had been successful – through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development we secured roughly 10% of the funding needed for the project. The remaining 90% of the funds would be the cornerstone of the crowdfunding campaign we completed in May – so it’s down to the enthusiasm and generosity of our 1,200 new investors that we were able to start work on this exciting project.
The aim is to have the building complete by Spring 2019. The building will house a new shop and video room/exhibition space, some more tasting rooms and the all-important café. Two enormous Cotswolds stone chimneys will be the focal point, with fires to keep the whole place nice and toasty in the winter. We can’t wait to finally open the doors and show it off in all its glory – keep an eye on our monthly newsletter for updates and we look forward to welcoming you in 2019!
The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas