Chestnut House – a destination not just a grocers and off-licence
You’ll find plenty of celebratory spirit at Chestnut House in Pooley Bridge. Andrew and Emma Kaye have created a shop that is much more than an independent grocers and off-licence. It has become a tourist (and gin lovers) attraction, maintaining the accolade as Trip Advisors top spot – 1st of 160+ for shopping in Cumbria..
In 2016, Andrew and Emma opened Chestnut House, their two-storey grocery shop and off licence. Vowing to offer something different, they’ve developed a shop that has a passion for locally sourced produce as well as the biggest wall of gin in the North West and a quirky and extensive range of other spirits, liqueurs and beers too.
Appearances are deceptive, from a small shop front, Chestnut House is like a Tardis; fresh food and an off-licence downstairs, and revealing an upstairs food hall that more than caters for self-catering visitors and locals alike.
Proud to support Cumbrian businesses, Andrew and Emma seek out local producers for everything from bread to beer, gives visitors a real taste of Cumbria. Favourites include fresh pies and meat prepared by Low Howgill – the award-winning Appleby butchers who sources meat from Eden farmers rearing beef from traditional British breeds.
The small, tight knit team, know the provenance of the food they sell – just ask them about the local bakers, chutney makers, beer brewers and spirit distillers and you’ll get an education.
But it’s not just the food shopping that has given Chestnut House its retail reputation – it’s their love of gin and the prolific – ever-expanding ‘Gin Wall’, coupled with enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff and their sampling table (outside of Covid-19), that has turned Chestnut House into a destination shopping experience.
- Over 400 gins
- 70+ Local ales
- 50+ Rums
- 50+ Vodkas
- Local liqueurs
Alongside the 400+ gins on offer is the Chestnut House brand – Cumberland Saucy Gin. It was Andrew’s idea, he wanted to create a contemporary gin that had Cumberland tradition at its heart, so this gin has more than a nod to the delicious fruity Cumberland Sauce served with cold meats.
The simple botanical mix shares the characteristics of the iconic Cumberland Sauce regularly served with cold meats any time of year – but especially during the festive season. You’ll find juniper berries, redcurrant, orange peel, black peppercorns and a hint of mustard and coriander.
There’s a definite hint of Cumbrian Christmas in the taste. Sweet orange and tart redcurrants to the fore gives it a citrus fresh taste which mellows into warming spicy tones for the perfect festive finish. It gets a thumbs up from visitors and gin lovers across the country.
It has been said that in a world where most craft gins seem to stuff tens of botanicals into their recipes, this wonderful Cumbrian brand stands out for its simplicity.
It’s not surprising that Cumberland Saucy Gin outsells all other gins. Perhaps it’s because it’s a regional gin, perhaps for the flavour – or perhaps, for visitors who haven’t heard of Cumberland Sauce, it’s for the apparently risqué name!
Emma says “Our front of house team is great with customers and they have a love of gin too. Daren Todd is a real character and everyone who meets him really appreciates his enthusiasm and his knowledge.
“Caroline Goodwin is our newest member of staff, she tried new gins every day as part of her training and is great with customers. We all like to find out what visitors like so we can make recommendations – and every day (in normal circumstances), there are dozens of different gins to sample. Getting the right one is important. For most it’s about the taste, but with so many stylish bottles, it makes choosing even harder.”
Pooley Bridge and its iconic ‘bridge’ has been attracting visitors for centuries, but in the last 5 years the village has become a destination for repeat visitors for another reason too: A gem of a shop with good old fashioned customer service, a massive bank of gin knowledge and a tasting experience that will be etched on your memory for a lifetime.
Andrew sums up “Who wants to walk into a shop that’s the same as any other – we’re not like that. The experience we offer in-store simply can’t be replicated on-line – it’s about localness, tasting and customer interaction – having said that, for visitors – online is a lifeline when they want to buy more! ”
The shop is open all year round (except Christmas Day), well into the evening during the summer, but closing early evening in winter.