Karl Bond, Forest Gin, Export Champion Interview | CommonwealthFirst | World Champion in SME Support

Karl Bond, Forest Gin, Export Champion Interview

Karl Bond, Director

What makes your Gin unique from everything else that is out there?
Forest Gin is the only gin in the world to have been awarded Two Separate Double-Gold Medals at the San-Francisco World Spirit Awards. We distill combinations of Organic, foraged and carefully sourced ingredients to create the spirit, before blending with fresh water from our own spring in the Peak District. These ingredients, combined with our English Porcelain bottle, really give our Gin unique qualities that we are very proud of.

Any good foraging tips that budding gin makers should be aware of?
Always get the landowners permission. Leave plenty for others. Never pick fruit below waist height (figure that one for yourselves!!)

How did the idea for your business come about?
We were home distillers. Making spirits & drinks for a bit of fun and our own enjoyment! It evolved from friends & family wanting to buy a bottle, to now being a very well respected spirits brand.

What difficulties have you encountered setting up your business?
Licencing and red-tape. There are very strict regulations in the UK for distilling.

What are the biggest trade and export challenges you face?
Our lack of knowledge of the different export markets makes it tricky for us. We are a very small team, so finding the time to devote to vital research can be tough.

What are the most crucial things you have done to grow and develop your business?
Using quality materials such as Staffordshire porcelain has really helped us to stand out in a crowded market, and definitely helps us to be an interesting product for various export markets

How did you hear about the CWF programme and what made you apply?
We received an email from the Department of International Trade. It certainly looked an exciting opportunity to export to countries that we have yet to deal with.

What are you hoping to get out of the CWF programme?
We would love to be exporting to more Commonwealth countries within the next 3 years

What is a typical working day for you?
We are a tiny team of 3 people, so between us, we do EVERYTHING. The day begins with walking the dog and picking wild ingredients, goes through to distilling gin, taking care of accounts, customer tastings, and sweeping the floors. Where our day usually ends is checking on our export markets and of course, the social media side of things!

Where would you like your business to be in 5 years time?
We want to be exporting to 10 different countries, with a range of at least 4 core products.

What advice would you give to anybody looking to set up an SME?
Just go for it! Accept that you don’t know everything, and be prepared to learn fast.

Are there any exciting gins/projects in the pipeline?
We’ve just released our new Earl Grey infusion which has already sold out! Next in the pipeline is to lay down some whisky barrels…


View Forest Gin’s CWF Profile

This interview was conducted as part of the CommonwealthFirst Export Champion interview series. Apply now to become an Export Champion.



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