BUSINESS AND FARM DIVERSIFICATION

SOUTH & EAST CORNWALL

£99,690.08 FUNDED

Colwith Farm Distillery

Colwith Farm Distillery

To build and equip a distillery for the production of vodka and gin, using local potatoes, including an associated visitor centre.

“Do you realise you can make vodka from potatoes?”

This was the casual question a friend asked Steve Dustow, a fifth-generation farmer from Lanlivery, Cornwall, over eight years ago. It gave him the idea of using potatoes grown on the family farm to produce a premium brand of vodka and gin distilled from scratch in Cornwall.

Stafford Dustow, Steve’s great-great-grandfather, moved to Colwith Farm near Lanlivery in 1904. It was during World War II that the family started growing potatoes to feed the nation. This tradition has remained, and potatoes now form the base of the family’s first ever premium spirits – AvalDor Vodka and Stafford’s Gin.

Steve started researching whether it was possible to make spirits on the farm. Along with his brother Chris, Steve realised that traditional farming was changing and to sustain and support future generations it needed to diversify.

This spurred Steve on to learn as much as he could about distilling spirits from scratch, which is a complicated and tricky process, and the business is now thriving.

A single-estate, ‘plough-to-bottle” premium Cornish spirit
Colwith Farm Distillery first produced vodka in 2014 and Gin in 2015. Steve said: “I spent ages reading, researching, learning, attending distilling courses abroad and bringing in a master distiller to reassure me I was on the right track.” The plan is to build a niche brand of premium spirits, with Cornish provenance being a key brand differentiator.

The difference between premium and other spirits is that the ethanol (which makes the alcohol) is produced from scratch rather than bought in from large commercial suppliers. At Colwith Farm, the crops needed for the spirits are grown within a few miles of the distillery and, thereafter, every step of the production process is delicately carried out in-house.

This is one of only a handful of distilleries in the UK distilling from scratch, and the stylish visitor centre set in the stunning Cornish countryside attracts many sightseers.

The distillery provides full-time jobs to local people and wholesalers, and local wine shops are able to offer a single-estate, ‘plough-to-bottle’, premium Cornish spirit.

LEADER funding critical to setting up the project
The LEADER funding secured through the South and East Cornwall Local Action Group was critical to the process of setting up the distillery.

A new building was required for the distillery and its equipment. A new visitor centre has also been built, where people can tour the distillery and even make their own gin.

“Realistically, there is no way I would have done the project on this scale without the LEADER support,” Steve says.

Steve believes the grant was a catalyst: without it they may have taken a further five to ten years to get to where they are today.

“Getting the grant took the edge off the risk, it gave us support and validation that it was a feasible – they believed in us,” he says.

For more information see the website colwithfarmdistillery.co.uk

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