AN ULVERSTON actor has given up treading the boards to set up his own gin distillery.

Andrew Arnold-Bennett has spent more than 20 years performing Shakespeare plays but is now about to launch his own small production line.

"Shed 1 Distillery Ulverston Limited will be producing very small batches of big flavoured, quality gins," he said. "Where possible the idea is to use local seasonal ingredients and to offer the possibility of bespoke products to local businesses and individuals as well as a number of stock gins for general sale."

The name comes, quite simply, from Andrew having two sheds in his back garden - the distillery will be operating out of what Andrew has named 'Shed 1'.

Andrew hopes that he will be ready to start selling in a couple of weeks and has been experimenting with some more unusual flavours of gin.

"One I made tasted like Christmas, a friend said. I also did one that had a little hint of chilli in there which ended up having a nice depth of flavour," he said.

Although Andrew used to be a whisky drinker, his wife Zoe introduced him to gin a few years ago and he started to look into the licensing process.

He has spent the past 13 years living in the Lake District and more than three years in Ulverston, and is keen to use seasonal and local produce in his gin.

"We picked our own samphire for a recipe," he said. "You can trace where your drink is coming from. It's a very small enterprise."

His new line of work might be worlds away from his days as an actor but Andrew has nodded to his roots with one creation - inspired by his recent role as cuckold Frank Ford in the Merry Wives of Windsor. He has named a bottle 'Cuckold's Revenge'.

Having recently worked with the Northern Broadsides, Andrew has spent years travelling up and down the country performing. He has appeared at Shakespeare's Globe and Keswick's Theatre by the Lake.

But the 49-year-old says he now wants to spend a bit more time in the beautiful area that he calls home.

"After 20-odd years working as a professional actor I thought I needed to spend some time at home and stop living out of a suitcase," he said.