Deep in the heart of the Forest Bowland’s famed ‘Lancashire cheese triangle’, a traditional dairy farming family are ploughing their own furrow by producing a distinctive artisan gin with deep roots in the local landscape
Founded in 2019 as part of a farm diversification scheme, Wild Fox distillery has gone from strength to strength, winning the title of best rural drink business in the 2021 Rural Business Awards.
Established by fourth generation Lancashire farmers Rob and Lizzie Billington, the distillery draws pure, fresh water from its own bore hole and features subtle flavours from wild herbs foraged among the farm’s hedgerows for an authentic ‘farm-to-bottle’ product.
Lizzie’s career in new product development, instilled a real passion for creating new products which kept ‘real produce’ at the heart of each new line.
When the couple decided to diversify, Lizzie started exploring what the farm naturally had growing within the fields and hedgerows and combined with fruits and leaves from the orchard. She then purchased a small table top still and began experimenting. After trialling 47 recipes, they were happy they had a product worth sharing with world.
The range now extends to four gins plus seasonal specials including Ivy’s Signature Gin, Blushing Vixen and Twelve Bore – a spicy winter warmer flavoured with orange zest and ginger and bottled at a potent 45% proof!
Rob and Lizzie’s family has been associated with dairy farming and cheese making in Lancashire since 1932.
“For as long as I can remember, a G&T was the staple after-work tipple,” said Lizzie. “Once they’d finished the evening milking, mum and dad used to relax with a gin and tonic. It wasn’t trendy and there weren’t hundreds to choose from, it was simply a high-quality spirit enjoyed with tonic, ice and a slice.”
Alongside farming, Rob’s passion for agricultural engineering has come in handy for maintaining Ivy, the 50-litre copper column still which produces their gin.
Ivy now takes pride of place in a purpose-built distillery and café on the farm which nestles in the shadow of the Bowland Fells in the heart of Lancashire’s rich dairy farming pastureland.
The café welcomes visitors to watch Lizzie and colleagues making the gin and enjoy coffee and home-baked cakes – along with the occasional sample of the latest fruits of their labours.
The Wild Fox Distillery and café is open to the public Wednesday – Friday from 10am – 5pm and on Saturdays from 10am – 3pm for coffee, cake, gin tasting and nibbles. To reserve a table, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01995 641136.
For special events and tastings, visit the website: wildfoxdistillery.co.uk or follow Wild Fox on social media.
Why not combine your visit with a walk, developed in partnership with the Forest of Bowland AONB:
Wild Fox Distillery to Beacon Fell Circular: www.forestofbowland.com/walking#800625304
Wild Fox Distillery to Brock Bottoms Circular: www.forestofbowland.com/walking#801401612
Button Street, Inglewhite, Preston, Lancashire, PR3 2LH
web: Wild Fox Distillery
Wild Fox is an authentic ‘farm to bottle’ business where the supply chain ensures value created remains in the local community. Everything from the rhubarb and elderflower which flavours Blushing Vixen to the cakes in the café are locally sourced. The distillery is heated using a biomass boiler running on forestry waste.
Water is drawn from the farm’s own borehole and after cooling the distillate, the water is cooled then recirculated to the cowsheds to refresh the flock of pedigree Holstein cattle
By visiting and shopping at local cafés, inns and artisan producers, you’re supporting the local rural economy, which increasingly depends on tourism to supplement declining incomes from farming.