Horsham gin success: From making gifts to stock in chain restaurants

A Horsham-based husband and wife team, David and Emily Howard, started making gin as gifts and it is now being stocked in Horsham restaurants, so we spoke to the owner for our ‘Meet the Owner’ piece.

Cabin Pressure are now stocked in Horsham restaurant
Cabin Pressure are now stocked in Horsham restaurant

What is your job title?As I’m the only full-time member of staff, I don’t really have a job title and fulfil most roles in the company - from distilling and bottling our products, making deliveries to our local customers, and serving drinks on our mobile bar to sales, marketing, and the dreaded accounts… Of course, I have help from my wife Emily and our much-valued part-time helpers!

When did you open your business?We launched our first product in March 2017.

What made you decide to open this business?Emily and I have always really enjoyed food and being creative in the kitchen and I became interested in creating drinks too. I started experimenting with brewing beer and then obtained the necessary licenses to start creating gin with our original 2 litre vacuum ‘nano-still’ in the garden shed. We believed that our creations were pretty special, and our friends and family thankfully agreed! We started selling to the public as Cabin Pressure Spirits in 2017 (a nod to our shed origins and low pressure distillation approach).

What gives you the most satisfaction in this job?It’s satisfying to see how the business has grown over the last 5 years - from starting with just one product to now having 6 permanent products, plus our various limited editions. We have a larger still in a larger premises (looking back, it’s mind-boggling to think that we used to run the business from our shed and house!) We very much enjoy being one of Horsham’s small local businesses and love to work with other producers and venues - several of our products result from collaborations, including with Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens, Crates Local, Horsham Coffee Roaster, and Chococo (who make amazing chocolates with our gin!)

Where do you see yourself/your business in five years?We’re planning to expand our product range to include other spirits and liqueurs and would like to move to a larger premises in the local area so that we can welcome visitors for tastings and events.

What successes has your business seen so far?Despite the challenges of the last few years, the business has continued to grow, and is now part of Horsham’s thriving food and drink scene. We’re delighted that our gins and spirits have won several awards, including a gold for Horsham Spirit Gin at The Spirits Business - Gin Masters. A share of the profits from sales of Horsham Spirit Gin are donated to local charities, so the success of this particular product has allowed us to raise over £2000 to date.

What is the most challenging part of starting your own business?There’s a big personal investment in running your own business, so it can be difficult to keep the work-life balance in check! I’m sure that most small business owners would tell you that the first few years are all-work-no-play, but I’m getting much better at taking the occasional break now and again.