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 Belfast man Neale Wright working in Stillgarden Distillery's garden. Photo: Fran Veale

Belfast man Neale Wright working in Stillgarden Distillery's garden. Photo: Fran Veale

Launching a new business - especially one built around offering in-person booze-making 'experiences' - as the country slides in and out of lockdowns and varying restrictions, might seem an impossible task. However, they say necessity is the mother of all invention, and that invention led to a whole new business model for Pat and Viki - as well as a community garden for Inchicore locals.

Upstairs in the R&D lab office, the couple's dogs are pootling around: Coco the French bulldog - who skits along the floor on her bum after spinal surgery and wears a pair of shiny purple bikini nappy bottoms - and NoMFP, a wire-haired fox terrier. His name is an acronym of 'not my f***ing problem', a popular saying of Pat's favourite comedy character, Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It.

Viki left her job managing a large health clinic to join Pat at Stillgarden. "I convinced her to leave a well-paying, stable job to do this, as life lessons taught me you have to have someone driving the business with an element of skin in the game," says Pat.

"When I get stressed," says Viki, 'Pat tells me, 'Eat it like an elephant, one mouthful at a time'."

Viki points to botanicals such as burdock, angelica and bergamot sprouting in rows of plant boxes on the floor. Staff were turned into 'social botanists' and given home hydroponic kits so they could give the plants some TLC before moving them to the garden and harvesting them to make Stillgarden's minty, citrusy Social Gin as well as the small batch, mid-strength (22pc alcohol by volume) Give & Take Gin.




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