Mandy Cornell said: "We went to New Zealand for a motorbike touring holiday, but the first thing we did was spend a day with Jill Mulvaney, one of the world's leading experts on gin distilling, who is based about 35 minutes outside Auckland. We'd already talked with people in Britain about making gin, designing recipes, but with Jill we probably made 30 different recipes over the day. It was very exciting, she's a very dynamic person, and takes a very intuitive approach to distilling gins, the breakdown of the different botanicals, the herbs and spices, how you cut the botanicals into the gin. We learnt so much: it really pulled together what we had already learnt. We made ten gins with Jill, and we formulated our East Coast Dry Gin on the back of seeing her.
"When we got back to Norfolk we had the still delivered on March 7 and made our first batch of East Coast Gin. Then we were hit by lockdown – we couldn't get the labels for the bottles printed until May. The labels were designed by a great friend of ours, Caz Jones, from just outside Norwich: she was the ideal choice, she hit the spot first time.
"People's reaction to the gin we make has been fantastic, we've been delighted with the reception. We cut the gin fairly high, to get the perfect balance of the heart of the gin. Ingredients are important, but where you cut the gin is just as important, and we think we cut it at the right point."
The winners of the awards will be announced on Tuesday April 27. East Coast Dry Gin is available from the Poppyland Brewery, 46 West Street, Cromer, for opening hours: www.poppylandbrewery.com/