Start-Up Stories – Blue Bottle Gin
The Gin market has grown massively in the last couple of years, with innovation left, right and centre. A brand that has lived through this transition is Blue Bottle Gin. Their growth has been amazing and we got the chance to talk to the Head Distiller & Director, Matt Polli. He talks about the rise of gin, their transition to an established business and more…
Where did it all start for Blue Bottle Gin?
I run the brewing department at our company in Guernsey and have always had a passion for gin. When I realised that gin was likely to be a good business opportunity, I put a proposal to my board to set up a distillery, which they agreed to. We’ve been distilling since 2014.
Your logo design is extremely detailed, how did you come up with such an awesome design?
The logo goes back to my past. Prior to training as a brewer and a distiller, I was a scientist. Before starting my PhD, I spent a summer studying flies in the basement of the Zoology Dept at Cambridge University. This made me realise that if you look closely at them, they can be quite beautiful and gave me the idea to call our gin Blue Bottle Gin and put a Blue Bottle fly on the label and use a blue bottle – hopefully it all links in.. The logo was drawn by Ed Org, an illustrator, who drew the first Wychwood brewery Hobgoblin. We use the tagline ‘Look for beauty everywhere’, which links into the Blue Bottle being a pest, but actually quite beautiful if you look carefully. Interestingly, Blue Bottle flies are responsible for a large amount of pollination, so they are quite useful!
How important is brand when starting a business?
Very important, but not everything. There a lot of gins now which are dreamt up by marketeers, contract distilled and then sold by 3rd parties. We’re very much small batch producers, who love gin and do everything ourselves. Hopefully have a brand that looks good. For me the most important thing is to create a gin that you want to drink and passionately believe is the best thing you can make.
What was the transition like from a Start-Up to an established business?
There are challenges and opportunities throughout the transition. We’re lucky that we immediately got traction in our home market in Guernsey, which gave us the confidence to export to the UK, Europe, Japan etc.
“For me it was important to have a business model and broadly stick to it.”
Obviously things can change and evolve, but the overall concept, the liquid and business model etc are constants and you have to believe in and stick to.
If you could go back to when the business first began, what’s one piece of advice you’d give yourself?
I have learnt a lot about every aspect of getting started, but the main thing is that it’s important to commit. If you’re going to do something, do it properly. You need to be well financed and spend money (well) to grow a business. Tentative steps don’t work..
The gin market is thriving and demand is increasing. Do you think the rise of gin is set to continue throughout 2019?
“I think gin is now permanently in the forefront of people’s minds; it’s a fantastic time to be a gin drinker.”
Everyone is looking for the next big thing, will it be rum etc, however, there are still places where the gin revolution has yet to hit and smaller brands like ours will continue to make inroads into the bigger brands volumes. I can see a time when there is a World of Gin shop next to the World of Whisky at Gatwick etc.
How did you go about creating the gin? How long did it take to get it just right?
I made separate distillations of about 20 individual botanicals to understand what flavours they contribute. After that I came up with 5 different recipes, of which one stood out to me. That is now Blue Bottle Gin. I have been totally selfish and made the gin I want to drink. We’ve won medals in London, San Francisco, Berlin and Spain and twice been named one of the ten best gins in the world by the London Evening Standard.
What’s been your greatest achievement so far?
The Craft Gin Club are big fans of Blue Bottle Gin and used our gin on their pitch for investment on BBC2’s Dragon’s Den. I also like sitting in a bar and being able to watch order a Blue Bottle Gin, that’s very rewarding.
Where can people find your gorgeous gin?
All over the UK in small independent stores and bars. It’s also available on Amazon.
What does the future hold for Blue Bottle Gin?
Ideally world domination. If not, continued growth and happy customers would be just fine…
Blue Bottle Gin are going from strength to strength! We can’t wait to see what the next couple of years have in store for them! Want to know more about them? Check our their website here or grab yourself a bottle here.