Meet the Distiller

Phil Whitwell, Batch Gin

Phil Whitwell combined his raw and simple love of gin with his passion for experimentation and challenge to come up with a recipe for success for Batch Distillery.

After working in IT for over 25 years, he started Batch Brew from the basement of a terraced house in Burnley, Lancashire, eight years ago.

Phil explained: “I have always been a big gin fan, so I was keen to produce a spirit I could enjoy. The challenges of making a profitable business was as much of an appeal as producing the gin itself was.”

From humble beginnings, Batch Distillery has grown rapidly to sit proudly on the shelves of Booths, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, as well as many prestigious bars and restaurants, today.

Phil describes Batch as a “gypsy brewery” during its early days – one without its own facilities. He remembers: “We made three craft ales which did not make much money.”

But once Batch’s first gin, Batch Signature, was ready, the company took on external funding from friends and family in exchange for shares.

With these investments Batch was able to break out of the basement’s confines and keep up with increasing demand. Phil said: “We worked out the space for the basement distillery based on producing about 200 bottles a week. But we didn’t account for having to store 1,000 bottles at a time, plus all the cardboard for the cases.

“The final motivation to move to a warehouse with ground-level access was when our head distiller at the time, Emma Coughlan, had to make up an order for our first export in the street!”

Batch’s big break came from being the first Lancashire gin on the shelves of Booths. From there the business added a purpose-built distillery room, spacious warehouse, office and shop space to its premises.

But rapid expansion is far from the name of the game. Phil describes: “Our intention is not to grow out of the premises we are in but to continue experimenting and creating quality handcrafted spirits, which is tricky to do if you are just focused on expansion.”

Such experimentation has birthed the likes of Gin Rummy – gin briefly aged in barrels used to mature Batch’s PX Sherry Cask Rum – Apple and Honey Gin, Pear and Blackberry Gin and other innovative combinations.

Phil’s nephew and head distiller Ollie runs Batch Innovations, through which Batch Distillery offers limited edition spirits to subscribers. The challenge of releasing a new product each month has been tough but has produced exciting results – including their San Francisco Double Gold winning Batch Industrial Gin.

Phil says: “Each piece of new equipment, including a 160L and recently a 500L still, has required a lot of experimentation to get the best results. We have a great team of passionate staff that work it out, but it always takes time to get going.”

Getting the brand in stores like Selfridges and Harvey Nichols hasn’t been easy, as Phil explains:

“Each deal has been hard-fought as there are a massive number of brands sending products to the buyers each week. We have some incredible products in our range so buyers know they can rely on us to produce spirits to suit everyone’s palate.”

Batch Distillery is now quite literally getting on top of the world, with exports to the US, Canada, China, Italy and Austria, and the UAE, South Africa, Spain and Japan in its sights.

The company’s experimental nature continues as it ventures beyond gin to aquavit and whiskey. Phil explains: “We want to keep people interested in what Batch has to offer.”

Batch Distillery has shown rapid growth of which many distillers can only dream. Phil attributes this to his extensive IT experience: “Running a small business can be greatly improved with software, so that aspect was covered when setting up Batch.”

But even when armed to the teeth with transferable skills, Phil admits there have been constant challenges: “The most exhilarating and frustrating experience so far has been growing the business. With each expansion we have made mistakes and have had to learn quickly from them.”

The brand is set to evolve even more, with quality and innovation at its heart, and is set for a busy and continually challenging future.

Batch Gin Brands:

Batch Absinthe Gin

This Gin is the first of its kind. Taking the classic flavours of the Green Fairy, Absinthe Gin balances a savoury flavour profile with juniper berries.

Batch Apple and Honey Gin

Created for Rosh Hashanah and inspired by the tradition of dipping apples in honey, Apple and Honey Gin is sweet and delicate.

Batch Buddha’s Hand Gin

Inspired by classic Chinese flavours and balanced with traditional botanicals, Buddha’s Hand Gin is a fusion of East meets West. This recipe was developed on a journey to creating a gin for a client, which is now exported to China.…

Batch Garam Masala Gin

A blend of spices including tamarind, fenugreek and bay leaf are combined with traditional botanicals to create this subtly spiced gin. Packed full of flavour, this gin has incredible depth and complexity.

Batch Gin Rummy

Batch Gin Rummy is a cask-aged spirit. Made by ageing Batch Gin in the same barrels used for Batch Innovations release #3 – Batch Sherry Cask Rum – they have created a spirit that can be drunk as a gin…

Batch Halloween Potion

A fun take on a seasonal Gin, Batch Halloween Potion has a spicy botanical profile.

Batch Industrial Strength Gin

Awarded a Double Gold and Best Gin at San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Industrial Strength Gin is judged one of the best spirits in the world! Industrial Strength is the Batch take on a Navy Gin and a nod to…

Batch Jasmine Tea Gin

A delicate, floral spirit, Jasmine Tea Gin is distilled with a blend of Asian teas.

Batch Lime Leaf Gin

A Thai twist on the Signature Batch Gin recipe, Lime Leaf Gin is inspired by their love of Thai food and its vibrant flavours. It is a fusion of culture and flavour resulting in a refreshing, moreish gin.

Batch Long Yin Gin

A merge of two worlds, Long Yin Gin is a blend of Chinese botanicals combined with traditional botanicals. This Gin is produced by Batch and exported to China.

Batch Pear and Blackberry Gin

Distilled and compounded, Pear and Blackberry Gin has the addition of a ginger and cinnamon syrup. A sweet spirit with an abundance of warming fruity flavours.

Batch Signature Gin

Distilled using 12 botanicals, with the most unusual being frankincense and myrrh. A bold, unique gin with flavours to match.

Batch Whinberry Gin

A berry local to Lancashire, the whinberry takes centre stage in this gin. Steeped in Batch Signature Gin with a minimum of sugar, and aged in a former Cognac barrel, this is not what you’d expect from a typical sloe.…

Batch Big Trouble Gin

Paying homage to the days when Batch was produced in the basement of their Distiller’s house, this gin is inspired by Shih Tzu, Lo Pan. The distillery dog would scratch at the floorboards from above to notify his master that…

Batch Gin