Doncaster firm making a name for itself in the gin business

David McCallum and his wife Fiona, pictured with a selection of the fruit Gins they produce. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP McCallum Gin MC 1
David McCallum and his wife Fiona, pictured with a selection of the fruit Gins they produce. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP McCallum Gin MC 1
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When Doncaster couple David and Fiona McCallum first arrived, it looked like a barren wasteland.

When Doncaster couple David and Fiona McCallum first arrived, it looked like a barren wasteland.

David McCallum, pictured sorting his Gin Vats. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP McCallum Gin MC 3

David McCallum, pictured sorting his Gin Vats. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP McCallum Gin MC 3

But now a former quarry site on the outskirts of Doncaster is the thriving home of what could almost be called 'Chateau Doncaster'

Over the years, the couple have developed the site, and now its latest venture has seen the rise of a gin industry which has developed from a hobby to a growing success.

Fruit gins are the latest development at McCallum's Farm Shop, on Bank End Road, Finningley, and they have boomed since the couple first started to produce them a year ago.

Originally, the drinks were something David produced as a hobby, making them for himself. But friends who tasted them told him he should be selling them.

David McCallum, pictured by one of his fruit fields. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP McCallum Gin MC 8

David McCallum, pictured by one of his fruit fields. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP McCallum Gin MC 8

David said: "We've always grown fruit here. You get class one fruit, which gets picked and sold in the farm shop. But you also get what's known as class two fruit, which traditionally we froze and froze to make jam and various things.

"Six years ago I made a summer fruits gin, and my friends all told me we should be selling it, but I never got round to it.

"The I finally took the plunge late last year - and since then it feels like we've created an animal. Demand has been so great.

"It's now gone round to half a dozen farm shops. It's being sold in South Cave, Howden, Wakefield, Narnsley,m Gainsborough and Scunthorpe, as well as Doncaster. I daren't take it anywhere else because I've got to grow it.

"One shop where we've been selling was recently selling 300 bottles a month, and we probably sell five bottles a day at our shop."

They are not the only business producing fruit spirits in the area. Another Doncaster firm, Brittains, has also set up a successful business, producing flavoured vodka and gin.

"I think between us we're putting Doncaster on the map," said David. "There are people in Doncaster producing really good quality products."

'Barren landscape'

David and Fiona moved started in business on their site near Finniningley in 1989 - with two holes in the which they planned to develop as fishing lakes.

They started growing fruit as a sideline and sold it initially from a stall at the roadside, and also doing pick-your-own.

Six years after they started, they opened their first farm shop, operating from a mobile building at the roadside, and they started selling their own fruit, jam, and other products from other local farms.

They developed the lakes to stock them with fish and dug a third a lake in 2005.

Both come from farming backgrounds.

David's dad was a farm manager for 40 years, and he worked on a farm himself as a youngster.

Fiona's dad, Alan Senior, ran Hesley Hall Farm, which grew arable crops and raised mixed cattle and sheep. She said: "Dad always joked that David wasn't a proper farmer because he didn't have sheep."

"We're proud of that we're achieved over the years, said David. "It was a barren landscape when we moved in."

"We wanted to create a nice environment doing something that's different. The last 12 months have been a different thing completely since we starting selling gin in November 2016. It has been a big learning curve."

Future plans

McCallum's could open their own distillery in the future.

At present the, the firm buy in the gin that they use, but producing their own in the future has not been ruled out.

The business plan for the product is already ahead of schedule - they drew up a five year plan a year ago and have already reached the stage they expected to be at by year four.

They plan to look again at the plan after Christmas.

David said: "The gin is bought in at them moment. But distilling our own is on the wish-list for the future."

"We pick the fruit and add it to gun in a vat, and leave it to soak. Some take longer than others, but it takes roughly three months before we can remove the fruit, filter, and bottle."