Luke is the fifth generation of Weetmans living on East Chase Farm. Having successfully managed the farm since circa 1890, the family has seen many changes in the industry and have always been quick to adapt and diversify.
Luke was born and raised in Kenilworth, attending Kenilworth School and subsequently running his own successful plumbing business with his services in high demand from business and domestic clients.
Alongside this successful career, Luke also dreamed of further developing East Chase Farm with solid foundations built by the Weetman generations before him. From Christmas trees to local produce, the farm had earned a place in the hearts of Kenilworth people. Luke saw the opportunity to build something bigger, from scratch to pass to his family as part of the East Chase legacy.
“I've always loved cooking, coming up with new recipes, and messing around with flavours. For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed experimenting in this way and now that I can be creative with local produce and alcohol, even better! I used to make sloe gin with honey from the farm, which was very drinkable. Distilling is perfect for me as it combines my interest in recipes, with my trade skills as a plumber. I have never been one to stick to rules, so changing flavours and doing things others say isn’t possible or won’t work is a challenge I’m always keen to take on. If you don’t dare to go against the grain, you may never come up with something unique but awesome! That is what we create here. I wanted to build something for myself, my family and for the local community. Diversification has become the new normal in farming. If I can plant out botanicals to use in our recipes, and work with other local farmers, linking with my wife’s flower farm, I think we could become something special for visitors to the area and locals. My vision is to create a unique destination and a product that will stretch to the wider UK and hopefully worldwide.”
A chance conversation with co-founder Richie led to the conception of East Chase Distillers, and the vision for a high end, premium product. Heritage Gin…
Luke started on the build of the impressive distillery, project Managing the whole process and doing much of the work himself, alongside a team of the most skilled tradesmen (and friends!) from the local area.
All new businesses expect setbacks – although no one saw COVID coming! Luckily Luke could continue plumbing alongside all the work required to bring East Chase Distillers to life.
"The building project became so much bigger and more involved than I anticipated. I enjoyed and hated it all at the same time; Knocking the old building down and the design and build was great. Having many friends in various trades, I was able to bounce ideas around with some really skilled people, resulting in an amazing space for everyone to enjoy.
Nothing ever runs smoothly of course, and we faced many setbacks; Let downs in materials, heavy rise in costs, months of a temporary roof, getting soaked trying to fix during downpours, digging out a huge area with a mini digger and doing jobs by hand I was told I couldn’t do. Hard work pays off, however. All the obstacles and adaptations have made it an even more special and unique place, with its own story. I have personally done something on every aspect of the build, some I wasn’t expecting to do, but when a job doing, you learn and get it done! Long days of thought and hard graft create beautiful places."
It's been a long road to the creation of East Chase Distillers, and it was great to launch over the Christmas period and meet so many of you. This is just the start of our journey, and we have plenty planned for the year ahead, including gin tasting evenings, new flavors and much more.
If you’ve enjoyed this blog, look out for next Wednesday’s post, which follows co-founder Richie’s story…