AN Orford couple say their life has been like a rollercoaster since launching a craft gin distillery from their home.

Christine and Stephen Ditchfield were inspired to start 3 Pugs Gin after a gin tasting session at Wine Buffs in Crown Street.

After learning the ropes, buying all the kit, applying for licences and getting a little help from the master distiller at Burleighs Gin, they sold their first bottle in November 2016 at Spinningfields Makers’ Market and now can count the German Royal Family among their customers.

Christine said: “We fell in love with gin about 15 years ago. At one point we had about 100 bottles in the cabinet.

“Then we went to a gin tasting at Wine Buffs two years ago and at the end of the night after drinking quite a lot of gin I made the bold statement that we could make our own.”

After Christine and Stephen’s hangovers wore off they were still convinced so they practiced making gin using their own selection of botanicals at Burleighs in Leicester.

They then started building a garden distillery on the decking area of their Orford home in May.

The couple bought a 30 litre copper still from designers in Portugal, which they named ‘Silverback’.

They also have a two and a half litre still that they use for experimenting with new blends called ‘Babyback’.

After plenty of trial and error, the eight botanicals Christine and Stephen use are cardamom, juniper, coriander, orris, angelica, basil, orange, elderflower.

Their craft distillery is also believed to be first gin distillery to open in Warrington since Greenall’s started more than 250 years ago.

Christine, 58, added: “We’ve made some mistakes along the way but we’ve managed to turn some of those mistakes around with the help of Jamie Baxter, the master distiller from Burleighs Gin.

“He was the unofficial go-to person on the phone when we thought we’d done something seriously wrong.

“It’s just been a case of trial and error. We’ve now got the recipe bob on.”

The name for the business comes from Christine and Stephen’s other passion in life – pugs.

Pepsi, Tutu and Mojo have become the mascots for the brand and their picture is found on every slanted ‘drunken’ bottle they sell.

Christine said: “They are the two loves in our lives so that’s why we’ve linked them together. We love pugs and we love gin.”

The couple’s aim is to take on 3 Pugs Gin full time. Christine also has a mobile grooming business and Stephen works as an engineer for Colas.

Christine added: “We’re either daft or clever to start at new business at our age.

“We’re starting something new at a time when you’re supposed to slow down a bit but we love it.”

The German Royal Family recently ordered a crate of 12 bottles and the couple even had an enquiry from Hong Kong.

After making new contacts during the Christmas markets, Christine and Stephen’s bottles can also be found at gin bars at the Thatched Cottage Hotel in Brockenhurst and The Albert in St Bees.

Christine said: “We ordered the bottles and the alcohol and the botanicals and we thought had enough before Christmas to cover four markets and after the second market we had to reorder everything because it just went crazy. It’s been unbelievable.”

The couple also sell gin through Wine Buffs in Warrington and have also just been approved for a licence to sell bottles online through the likes of Amazon.

“It’s a hobby that’s taken on a life of its own. It’s getting a bit like a rollercoaster,” added Christine.