A PAIR of young entrepreneurs say the pandemic has helped them grow their gin business following its launch.

Archie Ley and Ben Mills set up Big Grin Distillery at the heart of Mr Mills’ family farm, Upton Downs in Burford, just over a year ago.

Despite launching at the height of coronavirus, Mr Ley feels the pandemic has in fact been a good thing for the business.

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Oxford Mail: Picture: Ed NixPicture: Ed Nix

He explained: “In general, it’s exceeded expectations – the products have been incredibly popular and most sales have come through the distillery.

“The dream itself has come into fruition, it’s one of those things where it’s so encompassing, and everything is about Big Grin.

“The fun thing with a start-up is that we can experiment and have some fun with the products.

“The pandemic in a way has helped with people coming in to support us as they want to buy locally.

“We’ve had regulars coming to the bar at the distillery when we’ve been allowed to open it.”

Oxford Mail: Picture: Ed NixPicture: Ed Nix

Mr Ley acknowledged the year has not gone by without its struggles, but said the support of the community has helped the business.

He said: “There’s been drawbacks and supplies have been difficult at times, but people have understood.

“The community has come together and supported us, they see younger people giving it a go and enjoy that we’re being entrepreneurial.

“We’ve got very supportive families which has helped as a soundboard to go back to.

Oxford Mail: Archie Ley and Ben Mills from Big Grin Distillery. Picture: Ed NixArchie Ley and Ben Mills from Big Grin Distillery. Picture: Ed Nix

“Having a brand called Big Grin also helps keep us smiling and reminds us of why we’re doing this.

“We’ve been learning as we go, like dealing with balance sheets and the things you don’t learn about at school.

“We’ve been hands on deck and it’s been one of them years where we’ve not really missed out on anything as there hasn’t been much to do anyway.”

Looking to the future, Mr Ley said a goal this year will be to get involved at festivals and launch comedy events.

Oxford Mail: Picture: Ed NixPicture: Ed Nix

“We’re looking to get involved in music events and the one thing we definitely want to do is get into comedy, whether that be hosting at the distillery or going to external events,” he said.

“We’ll be hoping to do a few festivals in Oxfordshire this year, such as Wilderness.

“Down the line, we want to get into big retailers but we want to take it slowly, we don’t want to rush it and we want to be steady with it.

“We want it to be that when we approach the supermarkets, they’ll already know who we are.”

For more, visit: biggrin.co.uk