Former soldier turned gin maker is opening up on front line experiences at Kenilworth distillery

Richie Bartle co-founded East Chase Distillers in December last year after a decorated military career in which he spent 12 years in the Royal Marines and UK Special Forces.
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A Kenilworth man who swapped the front line in Afghanistan after a decade for a new career in gin making is opening the doors to his business’s new distillery to share his experiences of life within UK Special Forces.

Richie Bartle, 34, co-founded East Chase Distillers in Kenilworth in December last year after a decorated military career which saw him spend 12 years in the Royal Marines and UK Special Forces (SBS).

Gin, Tonic & Tales With UK Special Forces is hosted by Richie in the state-of-the-art distillery where over a couple of glasses of gin, guests hear about the ruthless selection process into the Special Forces, conducting night raids in the mountain strongholds of Afghanistan, and overcoming the psychological effects of losing friends in combat.

Richie Bartle. Picture supplied.Richie Bartle. Picture supplied.
Richie Bartle. Picture supplied.
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The launch of the talks come just seven months after Richie co-founded the business with his childhood friend from Kenilworth School, Luke Weetman – the distillery being built on the Weetman family farm – where they use the finest ingredients sourced from around the globe to be passed through their world leading Holstein still to create four premium spirits under their Heritage Gin brand.

Richie said: “Although fighting in combat and running a gin business sound like very different worlds, they both require similar skillsets in terms of resilience and problem solving – and through the launch of this new event, it turns out that they can complement each other too.

“When gauging interest for the talks we managed to sell around 90 tickets for three trial events, and so we are in the process of adding new dates to our calendar to meet demand, alongside creating similar sessions aimed at businesses to help colleagues develop core skills such as leadership resilience and team building – all of which will be influenced from what I experienced in the military.

“I decided to leave behind my military background to start a family, and I think my background will stand me in good stead over the coming months and years as we look to grow the distillery.

“Since forming the business we have been focusing on amplifying our brand as much as possible via social media and through joining tourism networks such as Shakespeare’s England, and so far we are making good progress as we now supply our gin to pubs and bars not just locally, but as far afield as Wales and Cheltenham too.

“It’s been a good start and launching new events at the distillery is the next step in helping to grow the business further.”

East Chase Distillers have also been given the thumbs up from the region’s tourism body, Shakespeare’s England.

Darren Tosh, Operations and Marketing Director at Shakespeare’s England, added: “Consumers are understandably wanting more value for their money nowadays, and experiences play a big part in that, as Richie and Luke have recognised.

“East Chase Distillers is a great reminder of the value of looking at what is on your doorstep, and that you don’t have to go very far at all to be entertained.”

For more information about the distillery and its events visit