It all began in the long hot summer days under the weeping willow trees on her family’s farm in the English countryside. From an early age she was involved in farming, the seeds of environmental responsibility and sustainable living were planted in Mary from this early age. Mary’s passion for experimentation with food and drink traces back to her parents living and working in Nigeria. Following in her father’s footsteps, with a particular passion for African and Asian flavours, this joy in utilising exotic ingredients has been the guiding force in developing her unique gin.
The starting point for The Willow Tree Distilling Company stems from the time Mary spent in Detroit as an adventurous twenty-something. Her love of travel and adventure took her to the United States for 5 years where the American dream and entrepreneurial spirit rubbed off on her and sowed the seed of creating her own product and operating her own sustainable and socially responsible business. Mary has had a varied career that had to fit around a busy family life. Her last job, working at Waitrose for 4 years in a variety of customer facing roles culminating in Assistant Section Manager exposed her to new and innovative products and inspired her to bring her own ideas to life.
When the time came to fulfil her dream of running her own business Mary took a huge leap of faith and committed to it full time. She set about researching ideas and possible products to create her own company. From the outset, family and friends were canvassed, always with the aim of creating a local high-quality product, focused on flavour.
After completing a course in distilling and achieving the required licences a still was purchased and the flavour experimentation began! At this point and despite the already considerable effort expended, it was realised that the journey had only just begun as it took another year of research into flavour combinations before Mary was satisfied she had created a truly unique gin.
There are a number of factors in the recipe that sets Willow Tree Gin apart including the particular herb and spice blend and the smoking process using carefully selected wood on the farm to impart a smooth richness to the gin.
Willow Tree gin was originally distilled in small batches on Mary’s family farm in Bedfordshire, where her family has lived for the last 40 years. Her family moved from the main farmhouse to the renovated barns in 2012. The family farm is now used to grow selected herbs used in her gin recipe.
Willow Tree has recently moved distilleries to Trumpetons Farm, Thorncote Green. Willow Tree Distilling is Bedfordshire’s first, and currently only distillery. The new distillery will allow customers to come in and shop the Willow Tree range and book the space for exclusive gin experiences, where you will be able to create your own gin using a wide range of herbs and botanicals.
It was extremely important to Mary that the process for manufacturing her gin was sustainable and environmentally conscious.
To reduce the impact on resources the water used in the distilling process is recycled in a closed-loop twin condenser and the botanicals that give the gin its unique flavour are composted afterwards and used to fertilise and grow fresh herbs. Sold in classically beautiful glass bottles, the packaging uses as little plastic as possible.
Willow Tree Distillery is now also working closely in collaboration with the Forest of Marston Vale – donating 50p for every full-size bottle of Willow Tree Gin sold to ensure new trees are planted for future generations to enjoy.
A premium spirit made from the highest quality ingredients and distilled in small batches in a true craft fashion, Willow Tree Gin is smooth, sweet, fresh and citrusy with a unique smokey character and richness.
Willow Tree Gin is a uniquely English product but at the same time inspired by cultures, flavours and plants from all over the world. It draws on warm, verdant summer days in the countryside but also a sense of adventure, global travel and desire for new experiences.
Willow Tree Gin 50cl Bottle: £38
Willow Tree Gin 20cl Bottle: £16
Willow Tre Gin Gift Set: £25
Willow Tree Gin Bamboo Straws: £5