A FORMER armed police officer who was unhappy in the job has found a new career producing her own gin.

Kaz Bass spent a year developing Beachcomber Gin from a flower nursery in Lymington.

“I started the business two years ago but spent nearly a year getting the licences and equipment set up and launched last year,” she said.

“In my last job I was really unhappy and wanted to leave. My partner and I had gone out and had too many G&Ts and I decided I was going to have a bit of a change. It was decided it would make gin because that was the trendy thing.”

The idea developed while she was holidaying on the Cambodian island of Koh Rong, she found an idyllic stretch of beach bookended by piles of plastic rubbish.

“We think we have it bad over here but we don’t really,” she said.

“I wanted to do something that would help. I ask my customers to return the bottles to me and I donate to an ocean clean-up project.”

A piece of driftwood she found on Koh Rong provided the inspiration for the brand’s logo – the actual piece of wood is pictured, along with a red crab that she originally drew.

“Gin always reminded me of holiday – that’s why it’s called Beachcomber,” she said.

“We have a lot of people who drink my gin and say ‘This reminds me of being on holiday’.”

Her partner’s family owned a plant nursery in Lymington and gave her some space to distil the gin.

“They had a big store room – now they have a little store room and a distillery,” she said.

She learned rapidly about distilling and about the HMRC regulations.

“I went to gin school. It was the best school I’ve ever been to,” she said.

“I explained to them what I wanted to do.”

The taste she went for was somewhere between the traditional brands and the sweeter kinds that she considers more like alcopops.

“I wanted to do something that sits in the middle – orange, lemon, lime, but just a little hint."

The gin recently won a silver medal in the London Spirits Competition, scored on quality, value and packaging by a panel of judges with commercial buying responsibility.

Kaz is currently producing around 150-200 bottles per batch, with a batch made every three to four weeks. It remains a one-woman operation, with Kaz doing the production, the sales, the social media and everything but the accounts.

It is sold in local pubs and bars and online, as well as at local events.

“It won’t be available in supermarkets, just the little independent shops. It’s in Bradbeers in New Milton – that will be the biggest shop it will go into,” she said.

Karen, who was a firefighter before becoming a police officer, said she was happy running the business herself.

“I want it to be a hobby as well as a job. I don’t want to slow down and not work. I don’t think people have as much passion for your thing as you do,” she said.

“I spent quite a few years really unhappy in my job and taking the leap has probably been the best thing I’ve ever done.

“I work with flowers and gin. You can’t get much better than that.”