Welcome to my annual Christmas ramblings for 2020.
Normally, contrary to belief, the Christmas letter comes fairly easily with a little light heartedness and a few pertinent stories from the year gone by; but this year is rather different isn’t it. Covid & Brexit – Brexit and Covid…..hard to make these subjects light hearted.
To be honest I should be consumed by both but both have gone on for so long – I find myself becoming immune to the daily updates by both our Government and the daily rags. More than a few of my friends get themselves very worked up on a regular basis about one or the other – or both, and like to apportion blame on our PM. I can’t quite bring myself to do this as I am not sure I could do any better and more importantly probably, I can’t think of anyone else who would do the job more to my liking.
The first useful part of my letter must concentrate on my staff at the distillery. Way back in March I took a very fast decision to shut the distillery bistro, this was a horrible decision to make having spent 3 years getting The Kitchen to a point where we had a wonderful team and were actually profitable, with hindsight it was a sensible call but we still miss those we had to let go. I did think the closure might see my waistline diminish but it seems my fridge at home provides adequate calories to ensure no such miracle has occurred.
As a result of the bistro closing, Lee moved the distillery reception and shop back to the old distillery building and I am delighted at how well it has worked. A doorbell to enter has ensured every visitor has their hands washed in high strength whisky and is donning a suitable mask. No one has moaned about this and it has made the distillery a very safe place to be.
Luckily for us we had commissioned a whole new website before 2020 Armageddon and as a result we were in a good place to move to online bookings for tours and the automating of engraved bottles etc. This has been a godsend – especially as you all have been very kind and have ordered plenty of engraved bottles – Thank you.
Quite amazingly, after 15 years of trying to export to China successfully, this is the year it happened – thank goodness. I am slightly concerned that exports generally have been better than expected, as it seems that me not turning up in a country has a positive effect… I have a feeling that when life returns to normal, my sales trips will be curtailed drastically so as not to ruin the good work of the team.
Production has continued as normal but with a new face on the distilling floor. Steve has retired, having worked for me for nearly twenty years and therefore it is a well-earned retirement – we wish him well. His replacement Chris has come from Greene King and has been thrown in at the deep end but seems to be coping just fine under the watchful eye of David.
The end of the year therefore sees us a leaner and hopefully fitter business with a great team all working their socks off to ensure our survival and for that I am grateful. I am also very grateful to you our customers as without you we simply would not exist. I want to wish each and every one of you a peaceful Christmas regardless of where you are and who you are with; if your loved ones can’t be with you – pick up the phone and call them preferably more than once.
Finally to finish on an exciting note. We have leased out The Kitchen building and the new operator has some wonderful plans, so we look forward to welcoming you back in 2021 for tours, whisky and lovely meals – all hopefully shared in the company of friends.
Andrew Nelsrop – MD.