After running her beauty business for 17 years, Samantha Long sold up to start her own gin brand. Catherine Scott reports.
When Samantha Long told her family and friends that she was selling her successful beauty business to go into making gin they thought she was mad.
“I had always liked gin but with the move away from the bigger mass produced brands to more artisan gins I really started to get the bug,” says Samantha, 43, from Oakworth
“There are a lot of gins out there, but I felt there was space for one more, old school London Dry gin that really tasted like ‘when gin was gin’.
“I did a lot of research and realised that the gin industry is a great industry to work in. I have run my own business for years and even though it had nothing to do with gin I know about giving customers what they want.”
And so a year ago Samantha sold her business, recruited the help of master distiller Rob Dorset and set about creating her gin.
“I think a lot of people over-think making gin and I think in the beginning I was a bit guilty of that, but the more I got into and experimented with different botanicals the more I realised what I really wanted was to get back to basics, to make a gin that summer up the rugged Yorkshire countryside.”
Having spent the last 30 years in Bronte country Samantha decided to name her company after the literary sisters. Even the label of her first gin includes text from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.
“I did have to get some legal advice as there is another company producing a Bronte liqueur,” says Samantha who launched her Yorkshire Lass’ Gin at the Haworth Old Hall Gin Festival on May 26.
“The feedback was amazing. I did a lot of blind testing before I launched and was really pleased with the results but it is always nice when you get your product onto the market.”
Samantha has a number of local stockists for her gin which retails at £34. She is also busy getting it into bars and restaurants across the area.
She describes her gin as having a citrus kick but a super-smooth finish.
“I like to drink it with Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic which really brings out the citrus flavour of the gin or Fentiman’s Herbal Tonic with a simple slice of lemon or lime,” says Samantha.
“Although it is lovely neat, possibly with just a slice of frozen pink grapefruit, ice and a little water.”
Samantha many only just have launched her gin but she is in the process of creating her second product the Spirits of Bronte Drinks Company range.
“I can’t say too much about it but it will be a flavoured gin.”
But her real aim is to learn to become a distiller herself so that she can make her own gins in Yorkshire.
“I think it will take me a couple of years but I am a very confident person and I am so passionate about this business. People were very surprised when I said I was selling my successful business and they all said ‘why gin?’ but it is something I am so passionate about.”
World Gin Day is a global celebration of all things gin, on the second Saturday in June organised by Gin Monkey! The idea is simple: get people together all around the world with a legitimate excuse to drink some gin, whether it’s in a cocktail, G&T or neat.
To find out what’s happening in your area visit http://worldginday.com
For stockists of Yorkshire Lass’ Gin visit http://spiritsofbrontedrinks.co.uk