WATCHING his huge 6ft-plus figure tower over a table of ingredients, it is difficult to imagine how Andy Arnold-Bennett would fit in the tiny shed at the back of his house, let alone run a business empire from it.

His head skims the ceiling of the diminutive outbuilding which has become his laboratory-cum-distillery-cum-factory and he can almost reach both sides, simply by outstretching his arms.

But that’s sort of the point of Shed 1 Distillery Ltd, Ulverston. The philosophy behind the actor’s foray into the world of gin-making is small batch, big flavour.

And this thespian certainly has the recipe for success.

Since launching in October, this most homemade of brands has proved a huge hit with drinkers. It is now stocked in a string of hotels, restaurants, bars and shops in Cumbria and a few beyond, including St. Ives in Cornwall. Bottles are flying off the virtual shelves of its website.

Lancashire-born Andy, 50, said: “I had no idea what to expect when we started, but it has been brilliant.”

Wife Zoe Arnold-Bennett had always been a fan of mother’s ruin, but Andrew was always more of a beer and whiskey man.

“A few years ago I had a G and T for the first time in a long time and I just thought ‘wow, this is quite nice thing to drink’,” he said.

His newfound appreciation came at a time when Britain was beginning a "re-gin-eration". In recent years, the spirit has enjoyed a revival driven by premium brands made in the UK, capitalising on an increasing appetite for homegrown produce.

According to HM Revenue and Customs, there were only 116 distilleries in the UK in 2010, but about 100 have opened in the past two years alone. Industry experts predict that demand will outstrip that for Scottish whisky by 2020.

Today, the kitchen table of his home is scattered with Kilner jars filled with rose petals, cardamom and, of course, juniper berries - just a selection of the ingredients he packs into the brand’s three blends.

Andy said: “You can spend months thinking about things and what might work. As our Festive Tipple is seasonal, I knew we had to have something to replace it that would compliment the other two standards, while being a bit different.”

“He has an amazing nose for botanicals, we’ve not had one disaster,” added Zoe.

Friends have been used as makeshift focus groups, testing flavours and providing feedback.

Latest to roll off the production line is Fancy Frolic, ginger, strawberries and three types of lime which captures the spirit of summer in a sip.

You don’t even have to taste it to get the ingredients, a sniff is all it takes.

“The first time you try it, I always just recommend drinking it straight or with a clean tonic. After that, you can add any garnish you think suits it,” said Andy.

The process of gin-making, on this scale, involves buying high quality, 100% grain spirit. Then the alchemy begins! Exotic blends of herbs, fruits and spices, as well as key ingredient juniper are added. Hours are spent allowing the liquid to soak up the ingredients.

This forms a compound gin, resembling cider in colour, which is added to his 25-litre copper still. It’s another five-plus hours distilling, requiring close watch, which spells long shifts in the shed.

Each batch produces 36, 50cl bottles. So, during periods of high demand, Andy can find himself ensconced in the shed for most of the week! Little wonder, then, why Andy has applied for a licence for a bigger, 40-litre distiller.

The couple have also had to take a storage unit in Ulverston for all the empty bottles and packaging. Expansion is on the cards.

Andy said: “When we started, we thought we’d see how it would go for 12 or 18 months and see what happened, but due to demand we’re already looking at moving somewhere within Ulverston to have everything in one place.”

But it is the shed where the magic happens, and Andy insists it always will.

“The shed will always be headquarters for development,” he said.