A NORTH-East distillery making award-winning gins has opened a town centre shop, with plans for tours and tasting evenings.

Darlington-based The Little Quaker Distillery opened on Saturday in Clark’s Yard.

Paul Colman, who owns the distillery with his wife Leanne, said: “It’s been a bit manic. The footfall is fantastic and everyone is really enthusiastic. I’m really happy with how it’s gone.

“We planned this a year ago. It was always part of the natural progression to have premises in the town centre and be able to hold tasting events. Because of lockdown we weren’t able to do it, but since Christmas it’s been full steam ahead.”

The business has been running since October 2018 and was previously based in an old wash house in Haughton. They have installed a new still, imported from the US, and are making their products above the shop. They plan to offer tours to show people how their gins are made and tasting sessions when restrictions allow.

They have a number of gins, from their original Quaker Gin, which has just picked up a silver award in the London Spirit competition, to a red wine-infused Ruby Red.

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Mr Colman added: “It was always the plan to be in the town centre, We are fiercely proud of Darlington.

“We feature the town’s railway heritage on our label and the town clock so to be distilling almost under the town clock is fantastic.

“We’re really pleased and the support from the local community has been fantastic.”

He added: “I think the lockdown has focused people on local produce. People used to talk about local before but didn’t support it. I think the lockdown has changed that.”

“There’s a lot of competition. The North-East is a hot bed and there are half a dozen different distilleries but it’s a healthy competition and there enough of a market for it. We all offer something different and I think we offer something a bit different.”