MAJOR orders from North America are set to see an East Lancashire gin distiller nearly double its exports tally for this year.

Burnley-based Batch Brew has inked its first deal with a Georgia-based spirits distributor for 4,000 bottles, to help satisfy the American thirst for craft gin.

The Habergham Mill based outfit had already shipped 450 bottles to SAQ, the state-owned alcohol retailer for Quebec, in September.

With the fledgling contracts in place, bosses at Batch expect export sales to account for 20 per cent of their turnover annually now, up from 12.5 per cent.

Earlier this year their reputation was bolstered when their Industrial Strength Gin won a double gold award at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Their performance has been showcased by the Food is GREAT campaign, a joint venture between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade (DIT).

Claire Plowes, Batch's operations manager, said: "When we first started out, exporting wasn't part of our business strategy. However, with the recent craft gin boom, we jumped at the chance to have gin drinkers around the world try our product.

"These deals are a big step forward for the business, but there's been a few things we’ve had to tackle to make them happen. For example, in the US and Canada not only is the standard spirit bottle size larger than in the UK at 75cl, the standard for packaging is also different, with the US market shipping in boxes of 12, compared to our boxes of six.

"To get around this we've not only had to adjust our bottle size, but also commission custom boxes."

Care also had to be taken with the labelling with the Quebec order - as all products must be described in English and French. Working with the DIT's advisors, these and other hurdles have been overcome

Paul Stowers, regional DIT head, added: "Gin exports from across the UK are booming, and the US is our biggest market - worth £189m in the year to June 2018.

"Distillers from across the north west are well-positioned to benefit from this demand."