A DISTILLERY which was gearing up to launch its first signature dry gin has put production on hold in favour of making hand gel for front line workers.

East Coast Distillery, in Landermere, is a new business venture founded by brew enthusiast Benjamin Mann, who acts as the director of the company.

Still in the early stages of its development, Mr Mann and his team had been preparing to finally unveil their first alcoholic output, the Essex Dry Gin, last month.

The company’s tipple, commonly produced from juniper berries, has been inspired by the local coast, and is said to be a celebration of an alcohol soaring in popularity.

But after the hospitality sector was put on lockdown - in addition to the rest of the country - due to the coronavirus outbreak, the launch was postponed until June.

Mr Mann, alongside Lucy Mann, Nicole North and Simon Burrows decided to instead put their knowledge and facilities to good use by teaming up with the Spirit of Britain.

The national group is comprised of independent distilleries which have come together since the pandemic to help reverse the shortage of alcohol hand rub.

Mr Mann and his hard-working team have now donated several bottles of their aptly titled Helping Hand alcohol gel to St Helena Hospice.

“We wanted to do our bit to support the many hundreds of people across North Essex who are helping our most vulnerable residents through this tough period,” he said.

“St Helena Hospice do an amazing job, so we wanted to start by helping them with a donation of alcohol rub to keep them going and keep staff safe.

“When we delivered it, it was with the promise that we would be back soon with a donation of our first batch of Essex Dry Gin, so we can again raise a glass to the great work of all the staff and volunteers.”

Bernard Barford, St Helena Hospice’s health & safety and facilities manager, said the formula would go along way in ensuring its staff and patients are kept safe.

“We are extremely grateful to East Coast Distillery for thinking of us and donating the bottles of hand gel to St Helena Hospice,” he said.

“We continue to provide our expert care and support to patients and families, at home and at The Hospice.

“And alcohol hand gel is essential in order to protect ourselves and our patients in order to stop the spread of infection.

“We wish East Coast Distillery all the best and every success with their new business when this is all over.”

To find out more about East Coast Distillery visit eastcoastdistillery.co.uk.