You’ll find plenty of Christmas spirit in Pooley Bridge. Andrew and Emma Kaye have been gearing up for the festive season since the summer, sourcing craft ales, spirits and commissioning their own Cumberland Saucy Gin.
In 2016, Andrew and Emma opened Chestnut House – their two-storey grocery shop and off licence. Vowing to offer something different, they’ve developed a shop that has become a destination shopping experience for gin lovers, and they’ve created their own gin too.
Cumberland Saucy Gin was Andrew’s idea – he wanted to create a contemporary gin that had Cumberland tradition at its heart, so this gin has more than a nod to the delicious fruity Cumberland Sauce served with cold meats.
The simple botanical mix shares the characteristics of the iconic Cumberland Sauce. You’ll find juniper berries, redcurrant, orange peel, black peppercorns and a hint of mustard and coriander.
There’s a hint of Cumbrian Christmas in the taste. Sweet orange and tart redcurrants to the fore gives it a citrus fresh taste which mellows into warming spicy tones for the perfect festive finish. It gets a thumbs up from visitors and gin lovers across the country.
It has been said that in a world where most craft gins seem to stuff tens of botanicals into their recipes, this wonderful Cumbrian brand stands out for its simplicity.
There are over 400 gins for sale at Chestnut House, but Cumberland Saucy outsells them all. Perhaps it’s because it’s a regional gin, perhaps for the flavour – or perhaps, for visitors who haven’t heard of Cumberland Sauce, it’s for the apparently risqué name!
In the run up to Christmas, the weekend papers and magazines are full of recommendations on what tipples to buy – but words can’t give you the smell and taste that a sample of the tipple can provide. That’s where Chestnut House scores highly with visitors – ranking
1st of 151 for shopping in Cumbria on Trip Advisor.
Andrew explains “Who wants to walk into a shop that’s the same as any other – we’re not like that. The experience we offer in-store simply can’t be replicated on-line – it’s about localness, tasting and customer interaction”.
The explosion of gin on the market means there are hundreds to choose from, suiting all palates. Chestnut House has a reputation for stocking one of the widest selections of gins in the north of England – over 400 different types – and there’s always a shot glass and an array of samples to try and a team that know their spirits.
Emma says “Our front of house team is great with customers and they have a love of gin too. Daren is a real character and everyone who meets him really appreciates his enthusiasm and his knowledge.
“Caroline is our newest member of staff, she’s great with customers and is currently trying new gins every day as part of her training. We all like to find out what visitors like so we can make recommendations – and every day there are dozens of different gins to sample. Getting the right one is important. For most it’s about the taste, but with so many stylish bottles, it makes choosing even harder.”
Gift ideas for gin lovers are stocked all year round – including special t-light holders for the empty gin bottles. But Andrew and Emma have been building up their range of gin gift ideas in the run up to Christmas, sourcing gin cheese, gin jam, gin stones, gin glasses, gin making kits, gin chocolate, gin sweets, gin marmalade – and you can make your own hampers too.
Andrew said “In a time when there is so much gin around, people like to be a little more creative and more personal with their gifts. Our DIY hampers have really taken off and we have so much fun helping people pull them together – we’ve created everything from Classic Cumbrian to a Unicorn themed hamper.
From day one Andrew and Emma have focused on offering as much local food and drink as possible and with two floors, their shop is a bit of a tardis – with a food hall upstairs and their vast collection of gins, whiskies, rums and ales downstairs.
It’s not all about their wall of gin – Chestnut House also stocks craft ales, exotic Caribbean rums, and even Japanese whisky. But it’s the local spirits that are predicted to fly during the festive season.
Andrew said “One of the most interesting sales this season is the new single malt coming from The Lakes Distillery. They released their first batch on 7th September – 5,922 bottles of The Lakes Single Malt Whiskymakers Reserve No.1bottled at cask strength (60.6%ABV). We sold out of quite quickly with several visitors buying bottles to go overseas. There’s no more stock so we’re already moved on to their Reserve No.2. – with only 4,788 bottles available in the UK.
Asked what would be the best-selling lines for Christmas, Andrew and Emma have firm favourites “We think the two best sellers this year will be a battle of the bridges. Kin Toffee Vodka from Newby Bridge, which is a wonderfully festive liqueur, will be competing for top spot in Pooley Bridge with our own Cumberland Saucy Gin – different tastes for different occasions – both excellent during the festive season”.
When it comes to Christmas, Emma says Andrew is hard to buy for, but he does love shopping for others and often buys things for the shop that family and friends would love. “They can expect to see one or two quirky gin related gifts creeping into their stockings this year!”
The shop is open all year round, well into the evening during the summer, but closing early evening in winter. In the run up to Christmas there are festive Friday shopping nights when the shop is open until 9pm.
They will be closing the doors on Christmas day to give everyone chance to spend it with families and friends, then it’s business as usual from Boxing Day.