Getting Ginny With It: Spotlight on Locksley Distilling Co.
An idea formulated in the Big Apple and fermented here in the Steel City, Locksley Distilling Co. produce a range of high-quality artisan beverages including their famous Sir Robin of Locksley gin.
After living in New York for eight years, husband and wife team John Cherry and Cynthia King moved to Sheffield in 2012 to start their own craft distillery. Sheffielder John had worked in the wine and spirits industry for two decades, with experience ranging across both hospitality and retail, seeing first-hand the craft brewing scene blossom Stateside and eventually travel across the pond. After meeting some inspirational distillers in the US, he thought that craft distilleries could be the next big thing and together they began laying the groundwork for the company.
Incorporated in January 2013, Locksley Distilling Co. launched their first gin a little over a year later. Named in homage to folklore legend Robin Hood, said to hail from the Locksley (or Loxley) area of Sheffield, Sir Robin of Locksley was one of the first off-dry style gins on the market, with a distinctly sweet taste and notes of elderflower, pink grapefruit and liquorice. It was an instant hit and to this day remains the company’s best-selling product.
Named in homage to folklore legend Robin Hood, said to hail from the Locksley (or Loxley) area of Sheffield, Sir Robin of Locksley was one of the first off-dry style gins on the market
As predicted, craft spirits followed craft beers and the ‘ginaissance’ ensued, with the number of UK distilleries doubling between 2015 and 2020. “The first few years were pretty crazy,” says Cynthia. “We initially thought we’d be focusing on export, but the gin scene took off here and we toured the UK with the first ever nationwide gin festival, while John was catching flights to New York to try get it going over there. Our first gin we called a “sipping gin” – meaning you could sip it neat, which was quite unusual at the time, and it became our flagship product.”
Lockley Distilling Co. have been based at Portland Works since 2015, a grade-II* listed building home to a lively community of independent artists and small businesses. Their ethos is fairly straightforward: high-quality, tasty beverages with no shortcuts taken and a commitment towards working in an ethical and environmentally friendly way. Local produce is used, organic botanicals are sourced, fair prices are paid, waste is actively reduced, and they actively choose to work with smaller independent retailers in the Sheffield region when it comes to stocking their products.
A local approach is also adopted when it comes to collaborations, having worked with the likes of Thornbridge Brewery, Bullion Craft Chocolate and Foundry Coffee Roasters, amongst others. Cythia explains that in what has been a challenging year, Locksley, along with so many other independent businesses, have had to adapt and take things online. “We’ll be doing virtual gin tastings and masterclasses, setting up online calls and zoom parties where people can still experience what we offer and learn about the making process. Obviously, things will look a little different this year, but we are working to make sure we can still provide people with some quality products and a good time.”
Read about more of Sheffield’s finest independent businesses in ‘The Little Book of Sheffield’, available to purchase online here.