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“We’ve all learnt about ourselves this year. It’s certainly been a tough one.

Here is to calmer times ahead with our loved ones and friends. Happy Christmas”

Downton Distillery


The new year started full of dreams, with hope and new possibilities stretching into the horizon. Our ‘normal lives’ have instead been upended and this year has felt like the grand national; hurdle after hurdle, all of us wanting it to come to an end. The effects of the disruption have been felt across the country and continue to be felt. Jobs have been lost, sectors devastated, and brands gone from the high-street. Loyalty has often been rewarded with a P45 regardless of time served and families torn apart through loss and separation. No one is immune.

We have all gone through the disillusionment the above brings yet there is a ray of sunshine behind these clouds, from this turmoil new doors will open, new friendships will be forged with new ideas replacing the old as we reconstruct and start new beginnings, time continues to move forward, but it has been a year like no other.


Following Junipalooza I was approached by Virgin Wines who asked if I would like to take part with their 2020 Christmas Gin Calendar. Who would not? What a great way to get your brand out to a wider audience especially when they may not have heard of Downton Distillery let alone Explorer’s Gin.

As with every door that opens, challenges will present themselves. My first panic was that we did not have fully decorated mini bottles nor would our design scale down to that size. The immediate problem was finding a bottle that was representative of Downton and create something different yet simple in the spirit of Christmas. Lockdown started as the design work was being drawn up and it was felt that we should create another design, reflecting the circumstances that we have all found ourselves in.

I will not bore you with how the magic fairies completed all the work, the filling of bottles, being in the centre of a hurricane whilst dealing with smashed and lost bottles in transit, magic dust was liberally applied everywhere. It transpires that our personal message also resonated with Virgin, as they chose that design.

I feel it reflects the year we have all had but points to a calmer future.  Thank you, Virgin, for allowing us to share this message of good will with everyone.