A DALES gin producer is developing plans to grow its business during and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rishi Sunak MP heard of Taplin and Mageen Spirit Company’s ambitions to expand its Leyburn-based enterprise when he called to thank the company for its efforts during the pandemic.

Taplin and Mageen diverted a proportion of its production capacity to make hand sanitiser in the early months of the Covid-19 crisis.

It made the sanitiser available free to local NHS and care staff and facilities in the spring when supplies nationwide were short and has continued to produce it for local businesses since.

The company’s co-founder and director Chris Taplin told Mr Sunak that the company had adapted quickly at the start of the pandemic to develop its online sales operation for private individuals while pubs and other hospitality businesses had been closed.

They were looking to develop their product range and seek opportunities to distribute their premium range of gins across the UK and internationally.

Mr Taplin said that while the premium gin market was very competitive, he felt there was scope to grow the market for their range of four small-batch gins – Signature Edition, Spiced Orange, Elderflower Orchard and Peach and Basil.

They were working on plans to produce a premium rum range too.

He said: “The buzz in the industry is that rum is the next big spirit. We are a spirit company, not just a gin distiller, so it is a natural extension of what we are doing at the moment.”

Mr Sunak said it was good to hear of the company’s enterprising plans.

“Taplin and Mageean stepped up to the mark to help the local community and at the same time developed their business online.

“It is really encouraging to learn of their exciting plans to grow, to develop new spirits in their range and, ultimately, to explore markets beyond their current regional base of customers.”

Mr Taplin said he and his fellow director Chris Young were extremely grateful for the Government’s Covid-19 economic support measures which had been a lifeline for the spirit company and also his other business, the Stone House Hotel, near Hawes.

The Taplin and Mageean Spirit Company was established in 2018 and operates from a 200-year-old former railway building adjacent to the Wensleydale Railway station in Leyburn.