Our thirst for craft gin is seemingly endless, with small batch distilleries opening across Sussex. Nick Mosley talks to Damian Best of DedBest Distillery near Lewes about their new Contractor’s classic dry gin.
Tell us your name, age and a little about you…
I’m Damian Best, age 37. My professional background is working in the music and entertainment industry. I met my business partner, Bob Dedman (39), about ten years ago and our friendship was – aptly – born in a bar. Bob had a previous career in construction and we worked together in that sector for five years before starting DedBest Distillery.
What inspired you to get into the distillery business?
The idea for starting a distillery came during a long drive in the work van one day in 2020. New business ideas were flying around but this idea seemed to stick. By the time we had got back to Brighton we had booked a meeting with a distilling company to view a copper still.
Our original concept was to produce whiskey but with the realisation of the resources and sheer amount of time involved in that process, we decided to at least start with gin which has a quicker production turnaround and a seemed more realistic starting point for us.
We established the distillery in the Old Mill Room on Crockstead Farm, located just north of Lewes, on 26 May 2021 and our Contractor’s Classic Dry Gin was born.
With so many gins on the market, what makes your gin unique?
In our humble opinion, our gin tastes unique, whilst maintaining enough classic qualities to remain versatile and compatible with various garnishes. The stand out botanicals are hibiscus and lemongrass, giving a citrus kick with a calm floral background.
Our bottle is actually very similar to a Calvados bottle – i’s dark antique green in colour. The overall design has the appearance of a whiskey product with a slightly more masculine feel. This was a deliberate attempt to separate us from the majority of other brands with clear glass bottles and bright design.
Tell us something interesting about the distillery
We’re surrounded by rolling countryside, beautiful wildlife and friendly locals. If you pop in then there’s every chance you’ll meet the free-roaming peacocks!
Where can people enjoy Contractor’s classic dry gin locally?
We’re in a number of bars in Brighton including Medusa Bar, The Pond, Easy Tiger, The Brunswick, Robin Hood, Fourth & Church and three of the L’Atelier du Vin venues.
You can also buy directly from us via our website at www.dedbestdistillery.com
Why did you decide to launch your business during the midst of the pandemic?
Bob and I pretty much worked solidly throughout the pandemic in construction. You could say DedBest was born out of the pandemic as we were seeking something more from our working lives. The world seemed to be collapsing around us and it inspired us to follow a new dream.
What are your plans for the future?
We’re going to work our fingers to the bone to grow the business. We are already in shops and bars in Brighton. We’ll be chasing every avenue to get our product out there.