Still Sisters opened its second gin site, in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, last November, complete with a working distillery. Co-founder Tori Jordan talks to Rachel Badham about the new opening and the future of high street drinks retailers

We’ve always wanted to try a high street location. Our original one in Frome, Somerset, is more of a production site. It’s on an industrial estate, it’s got a bottling line, and it’s got storage. We converted the office space into a kind of microdistillery, shop and bar, which we saw great success with, so when this opportunity came up we decided to give it a go. Essentially, the new location has the same kind of business model we have in Frome, with a distillery, retail offering and bar area. 

There’s quite a lot of support and funding for smaller drinks retailers and producers. It’s just about knowing where to look. For us, as a small business, a funding programme allowed us to open the site. Everybody thinks we’re completely mad to have opened a new site given what a difficult year it’s been for the industry, but a percentage of the new premises were grant funded through a high street rejuvenation scheme, Future High Streets. The team at Wiltshire council said we ticked all the boxes in terms of funding, so we were able to secure a grant and finally open our high street location. 

We only ever used to do trade and B2B sales. But now I’d say that direct-to-consumer sales make up about 30-40% of our business, and we’re seeing a lot of growth in that area. Our consumer sales really kicked off when we started doing local events such as tastings. I think that’s the trick at the moment, offering consumers an experience as well as a product. We’re still in that post-Covid period when people want to get out and have these experiences together. Our next few weekend events are almost fully booked. 

We want the space to be as flexible as possible. We think that’s what sets us apart as a bricks-and-mortar site. We want people to be able to come in and use the space how they want. We can host parties, tastings – we’ve even got a group coming in to do a corporate team-building exercise where they’re going to see which team can come up with the most creative gin. 

We’re constantly coming up with new ideas. The gin market is definitely saturated now, but we’re always looking to work with local botanical growers to come up with something new. We’re also about to launch our first 0% abv botanical spirit because we’re seeing a lot of growth in non-alcoholic spirits, and we are potentially looking at experimenting with rum too. There’s so much scope for 2024 so we’re super-excited for what’s to come.