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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: english gin

Inside the East London Liquor Company

The East London Liquor Company only began distilling back in July 2014, but it’s already made quite the impression. We headed to the creator’s home to find out how it…

The East London Liquor Company only began distilling back in July 2014, but it’s already made quite the impression. We headed to the creator’s home to find out how it supported independent spirits in the capital, carved a space for itself in English whisky, and why it has only scratched the surface.

When Alex Wolpert left drama school in 2006 he began working behind bars in East London, eventually getting to the point where he was running a group of pubs for the family shareholders at Barworks. It was during this time that he noticed a gap in the market.

“I worked in the on-trade for years and was amazed by the lack of championing of spirit made by the underdog,” he explains. “There was so little from independent producers, in a city with the best bars in the world. I felt that the spirit space was empty and couldn’t understand why”. 

He went to his bosses with the idea for The East London Liquor Company and they backed it, today still lending support through a large portfolio of sites. With that investment and the money he got borrowing against his Hackney flat, in 2014 Alex set up The East London Liquor Company in the site of a disused glue factory warehouse he found while cycling by the waterways of East London. 

He then ordered two copper pot stills from Germany, assembled a small team, and got to work. In the first year, the team was producing 1,000 bottles of gin a month for local bars and restaurants. “We spent six months distilling gins in order to find the perfect recipe,” Wolpert says. “Everything we made was always thinking about how people will enjoy it, removing as many barriers from that moment as possible”. 

East London Liquor Company

Say hello to Alex Wolpert!

East London booze without boundaries

White spirits were the platform from which ELLC launched, but this was never simply a means to fund future whisky projects. The plan was always to have a range of booze, beginning with gin and vodka. This approach is exemplified by its gin selection, consisting of a classic juniper-forward expression that sells like hotcakes. There’s also Louder, a savoury, oily, and slightly saline gin that works great in a Negroni or a Dirty Martini, as well as Brighter Gin, the perfect base for a Gin Sour or Fizz with its bright, fresh, high-ABV character that lets Darjeeling and grapefruit notes shine. In 2020 the ELLC was even appointed to create the next generation of Royal Botanic Garden, Kew’s range of spirits.

Then there’s a selection of sourced rum made up of a vibrant, estery blend of spirits from three well-known Jamaican distilleries, and the sweet and tropical Rarer made with Demerara sugar cane. There’s even a range of canned cocktails, bolstered by the acquisition of Longflint Drinks Ltd. in 2020. “What we love about our canned serves is that you get a tactile understanding of what East London is about for a couple of quid. The cans aren’t just self-serving in that they generate more can sales, but they get people in contact with the brand who then realise how much we have to offer,” Wolpert says.

But, this is Master of Malt so we know what you’ll be most interested in is ELLC’s whisky. Things kicked off in 2018 with London’s first rye whisky in over a century. But this distillery is a hive of innovation. “For the first four years of us making whiskey we’ve been extremely experimental. What we worked we’ve bottled,” says Wolpert. “We’ve got an understanding now of what our London Rye and Single Malt are but along the way, there will be a lot of experimental products to show people what we’re about”.

East London Liquor Company

The East London Liquor Company

Making whisky ELLC style

What they’re about is difficult to define in one article. So let’s start from the beginning. The ELLC sources grains (barley, rye, wheat) from Crisp Malt in Great Ryburgh, Norfolk.  Fermentation is a long 96-120 hours in open-top stainless steel fermenters, with one to two days of acetic acid rest following to encourage diacetyl, a compound that encourages funky, tropical notes. 

Arnold Holstein made the 2000-litre wash still and 650-litre spirits still (as well as a 450-litre gin still), the latter being unique in that it’s a hybrid pot/column still. After distillation, the spirit is diluted down to 55-62% ABV and popped into a cask. Operating at a relaxed, Monday-Friday rota, the capacity sits around 30,000 LPA, tiny still in the grand scheme of things.

The new make is slightly heavy and funky with lots of rich chocolate and fruit, while master distiller and blender Andy Mooney creates a slightly cloudy wort to get those biscuity, bolder flavours. He makes use of both pot and column still, the latter providing lighter profiles to make sure he’s getting the whole spectrum of flavour. When I toured the distillery with Wolpert I also got a chance to pick Mooney’s brain, and frankly, I needed some kind of industrial crane to get everything out from him. 

East London Liquor Company

Andy Mooney, hard at work

A thoughtful, methodical and uber-geeky worker, Mooney breaks down the ELLC process in delightfully technical terms, for example: “We have a lot of control over fermentation to play around with different yeasts, like Saison (common in lambic or sour style beers). Where typical yeasts will eat maltose, fructose etc. these guys will eat everything including dextrins (larger sugar molecules) and that creates more acetic acid and diacetyl which leads to more esters, which develop awesome characteristics in the ageing process”. 

The whisky is matured off-site in a huge range of barrels, including new American and French oak, chestnut, mulberry, acacia, ex- wine, rye, bourbon, Cognac and vermouth. I tried samples of Hungarian oak-matured rye, the same whisky matured in Pomerol casks, and then London Rye initially aged in ex-Laphroaig casks before spending time in chestnut wood. They were all spectacular in their own regard, demonstrating the spirit of experimentation and a competency in utilising different styles. They would work as single releases, although I imagine Mooney could use them to great effect in blending.

He tends to bottle whisky at 46-49% ABV, as he feels this highlights a bit of every aspect of the spirit profile. “If you go lower it can be too sweet and lose bitterness, go too high and you can get too much cask influence. If you want to water it down yourself you can do that. There will be cask strength in the future in all likelihood, but we want to establish our style first. That’s also why nothing is chill-filtered,” Mooney explains. 

East London Liquor Company

The distillery is one of the leaders of the English whisky category

Single malt, rye and blend

As Mooney communicates the process with a distiller’s eye, Wolpert is consistently painting the bigger picture, describing the dual responsibility and opportunity an English whisky distillery has to make its own definitions. “What does it mean to make a London Rye? How do we make it specific to us? It’s open for us to make our own path,” he says. “I do get people saying ‘how do you make a single malt outside of Scotland?’, and if I had any hair I’d be tearing it out because we know that doesn’t matter. But we get to be at the forefront of the changing conversation”.

As we’ve covered the London Rye before, let’s talk single malt. It’s 100% malted barley (obviously) and was matured in a combination of bourbon and rye casks from Sonoma, red wines casks, STR casks and its own London Rye casks. The combination of casks was chosen because Mooney is somebody who is passionate about bringing as much to the spirit as possible, maximising the variety and clarity of flavour. “None of our whiskies are single cask for the reason, because we think it’s rare to get everything we want from just one cask. In the single malt, for example, the red wine cask lifts the fruity notes and adds some tannic bitterness,” Mooney explains.

As for the blend, this transatlantic collaboration was made by combining Sonoma whiskey and ELLC’s London Rye. “We used a high rye and wheat bourbon that was atypical of the classic styles you’d usually get, which allowed us to get a flavour profile we can’t create in the UK and what they couldn’t get in the US,” Wolpert says. “It’s what a blend should be all about, it’s greater the sum of its parts. Two entirely different processes coming together. It also shows we’re willing to stick our neck out and not take ourselves too seriously, and we’ve priced it at the same as the single malt to communicate that’s how vital we see blends. People have a narrow perception of blends so we have to work doubly hard to make sure people realise how special blends are and a real pinnacle of whisky production”.

East London Liquor Company

The future is very bright for this brand

A spirits brand for everyone

At present, ELLC distils, imports and serves a range of award-winning gins, whiskies, vodkas, rums and canned cocktails at a rate of 15,000 bottles a month to over 20 markets. For Wolpert, the ambition was to be a spirits brand for everyone, with sophisticated liquid but an accessible, transparent branding. “Andy left his recipe book out once with botanicals and weights etc. and someone on a tour said ‘what if I took a picture?’ I said ‘take one, it’s a huge compliment’. There’s so much smoke and mirror in this industry that it’s disarming for people. That’s why you can see the distillery from the bar. It’s a very different message to the educational process you get in a visitor centre, which we do provide, but we give customers a chance to chill out and have a couple so they feel looked after and engaged.”

The bar itself is not purely ELLC booze, it’s curated in such a way that the staff fill it with brands they respect, which speaks to the sense of community they feel within drinks and a confidence in their own product. Wolpert is very passionate about his local area, but also feels connected to world whisky as a category and a part of the growing English whisky scene. “We really relate to all the people who are interested in new ways of making and understanding whisky, as well as being interested in attracting new whisky drinkers. People get obsessed with the label and not the liquid, so we’re fighting against that and attempting to be at the centre of a conversation that understands what English, and London whisky is”. 

It’s a conversation I very much enjoyed having with Wolpert and Mooney, while witnessing first-hand the care and focus that goes into the process. It’s a distillery I’ve always had a lot of time for, with its exceptional value for money white spirits and comfortable bar setting. But the nerdy and curious approach to whisky is what gets me really excited. If Wolpert had this range of booze to hand back in his bartending days, he would never have needed to create The East London Liquor Company at all.

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Demystifying distillation with 58 Gin

Recently we visited the 58 Gin distillery in London to learn all about the eco-conscience brand and how it helps consumers understand the process that makes their favourite booze. In…

Recently we visited the 58 Gin distillery in London to learn all about the eco-conscience brand and how it helps consumers understand the process that makes their favourite booze.

In the heart of Hackney, under the arches in Haggerston, is a local, sustainable micro-distillery that teaches the art and craft of all things distilled and delicious called 58 Gin.

It’s the creator of a particularly tasty London Dry Gin which features nine botanicals including juniper, coriander, lemon, pink grapefruit, vanilla, orris, cubeb pepper, bergamot, and angelica. Its range also boasts a Navy Strength bottling, flavoured editions like Apple & Hibiscus and English Berry, as well as a couple of hard seltzers.

58 Gin

The 58 Gin range

Evolving a brand

The brand was founded by Australian Mark Marmont in 2014, who was inspired to make gin after moving to London and becoming obsessed with the distillation process. His experiments led him to a recipe that became 58 Gin.

The distillery still uses the single-shot distillation method he favoured, distilling 100% British wheat spirit very slowly at the lowest possible temperature and only taking tiny cuts from the heart of each run in a copper alembic still. They take no shortcuts. The still is cleaned between each production and every botanical is measured by hand. It’s a professional outfit that offers contract distilling services that many brands have been wise enough to take up.

The initial plan was just to make great gin, but the ethos was evolved to ensure sustainability, community, and education became the core of the brand by managing director Carmen O’Neal. She was brought on by Marmont to run the business while he made the gin and took over following his departure in June of this year.

The current distillery was her project, and she recalls that the space, which was without tenants for a couple of years, was covered in petrol and littered with drug paraphernalia when she bought it. “I thought this looks like a great project,” she jokes. “We wanted to restore it to its natural style and create a space that was dual functioning, a distillery that could host events with a bar and a gin school”. 

58 Gin

The 58 Gin distillery

A spirited education

It’s the latter that really intrigued me. Gin schools are increasingly common and help people understand the craft behind their favourite booze, and it’s also a way for a brand to stand out in a crowded market. At 58 Gin, customers can create their own 700ml bottle of gin, distilled in front of them on miniature stills, each named after famous women like Amelia Earhart and Florence Nightingale. 

The consumer chooses a flavour profile: citrus, spice, herbal, floral; then picks up to six botanicals from over a dozen options. The distillers will then produce your personal recipe that makes your gin unique, which you can keep on record and have made to order.

Nibbles are provided while a history of gin in London is told to provide context. After they have distilled your gin, the team will then bottle and wax seal it in front of you (you can do the latter yourself) with a personalised label. If you can’t make it to the distillery, you can order all of this online and have a gin delivered to your door.

58 Gin

Making the gin yourself is the best way to understand how it’s produced

What I love about this is how effectively it breaks down the production process of gin. When you’re picking your botanicals, you’ll learn how Egyptian lemon and Spanish lemon differ and choose whether you want the former’s lemon drizzle cake sweetness, or the latter’s sharper profile. Each is measured in front of you on scales by hand so you get an idea of how strong each botanical’s contribution is. It’s show and tell. O’Neal creates a comfortable environment where there’s no silly question. 

Maybe this sounds dim to people who really know their booze, but for those who are just getting into drinks, they’ll have a lot of questions. What do the botanicals actually look like before they’re distilled? Is the flavour they give the gin the same flavour they have pre-distillation?

“You might know enough about gin to know the flavour comes from botanicals, but most people don’t spend their time sampling gins side-by-side, differentiating tastes, learning how to identify the flavours that really make them tick,” says O’Neal. “Well, here’s your chance”.

58 Gin

Say hello to 58 Gin owner Carmen O’Neal!

Gin with a conscience

Given the COP26 is dominating the news, it was also heartening to see how sustainability wasn’t an occasional project for this distillery. It runs through every part of 58 Gin. The bar is repurposed from another location. Leftover steelwork was used to make furniture. There are solar panels on the shipping containers outside and O’Neal is working with SPS Energy to ensure the distilling operation will be 100% solar powered by the end of the year.

A logistics company that uses the largest zero-emission fleet in the industry helps ship all the bottles, which are housed in 100% recyclable and biodegradable packaging and omit plastic materials like bubble wrap. The bottles and glass corks are produced with recycled glass, while a partnership with Loddington Farm provides organic by-products, like wonky apples not fit for supermarkets in the Apple & Hibiscus Pink Gin or the seasonal foraged sloes in the English Berry Gin.

Teaming up in the spirit of collaboration is something O’Neal is particularly good at and speaks to her ambition to make 58 Gin a part of a community, both locally in Haggerston and in the wider spirits industry. She has already established numerous ties with nearby businesses and has co-launched The Collab Series with supposed rivals like The Spirit of Manchester Distillery, a series of experimental projects that bring together UK producers to make new and exciting booze, like the creation of the country’s first traditionally distilled shochu with Kanpai London Sake Brewery. O’Neal wants her business to be a lot of things, but doesn’t forget that at the core of it 58 Gin is a distillery and so making great booze is still very much a priority.

And that’s exactly what you get here. I made my own gin during my visit, and it’s fair to say it didn’t quite match up to the gin O’Neal makes. But even as someone who does this for a living, I learned an awful lot and got a real kick out of the tactile experience of distilling my own recipe. For those who like to learn more about the art of distillation and what gin is, I suggest you book yourself into a gin school soon. There’s no substitute for the real thing.

Click here to buy 58 Gin from Master of Malt.

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Cocktails to make you feel like you’re on holiday

The right cocktail has the power to take you anywhere. Let this selection of boozy delights transport you to your dream destination. Lockdowns, travel restrictions and continued uncertainty have meant…

The right cocktail has the power to take you anywhere. Let this selection of boozy delights transport you to your dream destination.

Lockdowns, travel restrictions and continued uncertainty have meant that our innate desire to explore and see the world isn’t being fulfilled. Plus, it’s January and the weather is pretty miserable. We’ve all had to commit to the staycation/holistay/indoor getaway and it’s not always easy. But there are ways to get you in the holiday mood without breaking any lockdown or social distancing rules.

Small ways to turn your home into a city break escape, beach holiday retreat, or cultural exploration include discovering new food or watching a film with subtitles. Or, better yet, make a drink that’s so tasty it can transport you across the world. 

That’s why we wanted to share with you a selection of simple but delicious cocktails that you can make and enjoy at home this winter, to make you feel one step closer to your next exciting break. Happy travels!    

These delightful cocktails will transport you to your favourite holiday destination

The beach holiday

The destination: Barbados

Whisk yourself away to its golden shores and imagine the sand between your toes. Or, if you’re anything like us, picture you and good company roaming the island to tour its world-renowned rum distilleries, like Foursquare, with a Daiquiri in-hand. Speaking of which… 

The cocktail: The Burrell Daiquiri

Created by global rum ambassador and Equiano co-founder Ian Burrell, this modern twist on the classic simple yet satisfying cocktail features the world’s first African and Caribbean rum as its base. The multi-award-winning Equiano Rum is a unique blend of two cultures, two distilleries and two islands and it’s also delicious.

How to make it:

Pour 50ml Equiano Rum, 25ml fresh lime juice, 15ml agave nectar and 3 dashes of Angostura Orange Bitters into a shaker with ice cubes. Shake well. Strain in a chilled cocktail glass. Serve straight up in a tall cocktail glass or coupette. Garnish with a lime twist.

These delightful cocktails will transport you to your favourite holiday destination

The city break

The destination: Venice

There’s nothing quite like taking a long weekend for a city break, the ultimate taste-test of another country. And there are few locations as iconic as Venice. For many people, Venice is best enjoyed with an aperitivo, overlooking the canals after an eventful day exploring galleries and cobbled streets. 

The cocktail: The Original Venetian Spritz

The quintessential Venetian cocktail made with a herbal, slightly bittersweet aperitif that got its start in 1920s Venice, could there be a more perfect marriage of drink and city than this? According to Venetian tradition, the recipe is garnished with a large green olive to create the perfect blend of balance and flavour. 

How to make it:

Pour 75ml of cold prosecco into a wine glass over ice. Add 50ml of Select Aperitivo, a splash of soda water and gently stir together. Garnish with a large green olive and enjoy in good company.

These delightful cocktails will transport you to your favourite holiday destination

The winter excursion

The destination: Norway

Not everybody wants sun, sea and sand when they holiday. Some prefer to embrace beautiful snowy landscapes, lodging in cabins, taking in the Northern Lights or skiing. For them, we’ve got the perfect winter warmer, which should also be pretty satisfying as it is winter right now.

The cocktail: Spiced Winter Chocolate Toddy

An intriguing take on a seasonal staple, this toddy recipe brings together the spice, warmth and sweetness of Glen Moray’s Sherry Cask Finish with a beautiful honeyed, chocolate smoothness.

How to make it:

Pour 50ml Glen Moray Sherry Cask Finish into a cup, followed by 1 tsp honey and 1 tsp ground black cardamom seeds. Top up with warm cocoa, made with organic cocoa powder and whole milk. Bring even more spicy hints by garnishing with dried cloves, cinnamon and star anise. Slàinte!

These delightful cocktails will transport you to your favourite holiday destination

The cultural adventure

The destination: Oaxaca

Perhaps what you really want from a good holiday is to immerse yourself in one of the world’s most dynamic cultures. Like Oaxaca, for example, with its vibrant art scene, colourful festivities, unique cuisine and diverse natural rich environment. Then this drink is for you. It’s Oaxaca in a glass. Just add some tasty Mexican snacks and you’re there.

The cocktail: The Tobala Highball

Made by the terrific folk at Corte Vetusto, this refreshing Mezcal & Tonic allows the spirit to shine, invoking the flavour, culture and identity of Oaxaca. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different tonic styles and garnishes.

How to make it:

Pour 50ml Corte Vetusto Tobalá and 160ml of quality tonic water over ice into a highball glass, stir and garnish with a cucumber ribbon.

These delightful cocktails will transport you to your favourite holiday destination

The staycation

The destination: the UK

We haven’t forgotten those who love appreciating what’s on their doorstep. The UK is blessed with wonderful countryside, coastlines and cities dripping with history and stocked with enough delicious food and drink to satisfy anyone. If you’d like to imagine yourself visiting distilleries in Speyside, strolling around old castles or having a stick of rock at the beach, then this serve is for you.

The cocktail: Lady Marylebone

To celebrate the UK, we’ve gone for a classic London dry gin made with rose petals to evoke the famous Pleasure Gardens of Marylebone. To bring out those floral notes, the cocktail contains rose  and elderflower liqueurs with grenadine to give it a naughty red hue. 

How to make it:

Combine 50ml Marylebone Gin, 15ml St. Germain elderflower liqueur, 15ml rose liqueur, 20ml grapefruit juice and 5ml grenadine syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Nick & Nora glass and then top with premium tonic water. Garnish with a petal.

 

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How Maidstone Distillery is reclaiming a legacy

You might not be aware of the importance Maidstone has in the history of booze in this country, but a new distillery is determined to ensure that story is told….

You might not be aware of the importance Maidstone has in the history of booze in this country, but a new distillery is determined to ensure that story is told. And also make delicious gin. 

When you enter Maidstone Distillery your eyes are immediately drawn to two things. A towering, shiny 450-litre copper still and a colourful James Gillray caricature. Painted at the height of the Napoleonic Wars, ‘The Hand-Writing upon the Wall’ depicts Napoleon and his wife feasting on England’s assets, including the Tower of London, the Bank of England and Maidstone Gin. 

“When people see the painting they say ‘wow!’ Because they didn’t know that history existed,” says Darren Graves, co-founder of the Maidstone Distillery

Who can blame them? I grew up in Maidstone and live there now. I’m a drinks writer. And even I only recently discovered that Maidstone is home to one of the most defining spirits of its age.

Maidstone Distillery

The bottle of Maidstone Gin can be found in the bottom left of the painting (it’s got the yellow ribbon)

A part of history

Darren and Sam, co-founder and wife, were first alerted to this remarkable history after finding a document written in 1951 which described the gin as a forgotten legacy. “Distilling has been in the lifeblood of the town for hundreds of years,” Sam explains.  Further digging led them to George Bishop, a native of Maidstone born around 1730 who would go on to be mayor and, more importantly, found the first Maidstone distillery in 1785. “It was a huge success, producing some 5,000 gallons a week of gin, brandy, rum, and more. By 1803, it was renowned for producing one of the finest gins in all of Europe. He even had a warehouse in Queenhithe Dock, the oldest dock or wharf in London,” Darren says. Sadly, after Bishop’s death in 1793 family mismanagement soon bankrupted the distillery and it was closed by 1818.

But the story doesn’t end there. In nearby Dover, the Grant family had already been making its own Maidstone gin, capitalising on its status. When their distillery was destroyed in 1850 after parts of the white cliffs collapsed onto it, they seized an opportunity. “They moved the whole operation and built a distillery in Maidstone. It also was home to imported French cognac and Scotch whisky as well as Grant’s Morello Cherry Brandy, which was distributed all around the world and dubbed ‘the national liqueur’,” Darren explains. “The distillery was even dubbed ‘Queen’s Distillery’ because Queen Victoria was such a fan and her image was eventually embossed on the bottle”.

The duo realised while uncovering this legacy the size of the role Maidstone played in the nation’s distilling history and felt it was a story that needed to be told. “This history took what was a daydream and made us feel like we could build something together here,” Sam says. Now, just over 200 years after the Bishop distillery closed, Maidstone gin is back in the spotlight.  

Maidstone Distillery

Meet Darren and Sam Graves

A new dawn

The new Maidstone Distillery isn’t simply an enterprise in retelling a forgotten story, however. The Graves’ are keen to make their own mark. “We didn’t want our distillery to be about reimagining a historic recipe. The legacy informed storytelling rather than the process,” Sam says. “In a modern setting, the gin needed refining. We thought ‘what would Maidstone Gin have done?’ It wouldn’t have sat still, it would have bettered itself.” The result was George Bishop London Dry Gin, a bold, rich, and decidedly modern expression crafted using a single-shot distillation method, pure Kentish water, and fifteen different botanicals including coriander, angelica root, three different citrus peels, English Camomile, Indian cardamom, tellicherry pepper and three types of juniper.

The Graves’ are keen for the new Maidstone Distillery to also represent the local area and support progressive causes. The fact that the distillery runs on 100% renewable energy and that every bottle uses recyclable Flexi-Hex packaging is one aspect that demonstrates this, as is the brand’s second expression, the floral and complex Ranscombe Wild. Working with Plantlife, the duo created a gin with wild foraged botanicals, like calamint, poppy seeds, and red clover from Ranscombe Farm .“It’s a celebration of wild plants and a donation from every bottle sold is given to Plantlife to help its valuable conservation work,” Darren says. 

For Maidstone Distillery’s first liqueur, Sharp’s Toffee, the founders were keen to champion another Maidstone legacy, the toffee empire Sharp’s of Maidstone, once one of the largest manufacturers of toffee in the world. “Every spirit we make tells a story and we are immensely proud of that,” Darren explained. The liqueur begins life as a distilled spirit made with select botanicals which are blended with a top-secret toffee recipe, resulting in an expression that tastes like homemade fudge and is lovely over ice and can be used to great effect in cocktails and cooking.

Maidstone Distillery

The new Maidstone Distillery

Welcome home

Like many during the pandemic, the Graves’ turned their hands to producing hand sanitiser but that hasn’t slowed down product development, with vodka and whisky in their sights. “I’m a whisky drinker by heart and I would love to make one,” Darren explains. “We’ve been approached by quite a significant brewery about making another spirit with a story. There are lots of exciting things in the pipeline”. 

For now, the duo is looking forward to the end of lockdown so they can welcome visitors back to the distillery. It sits in the heart of town in the historic Market Buildings and, as a Maidstone native, it feels like an appropriate place to learn about the legacy of its once-famous spirit and celebrate its return.

“These are very challenging times but this is a positive story,” Sam says, sitting in front of the bar at the distillery’s entrance. On it is the distillery’s logo, a representation of the man who started it all: George Bishop, tipping his hat. “We love this image. We always think it’s like him being welcomed back into the present day. To the third Maidstone Distillery”.

You can purchase all of Maidstone Distillery’s booze right here. Below are the full tasting notes for each expression.

Maidstone Distillery

George Bishop London Dry Gin

Nose: Through gingerbread, piney juniper, and floral notes there’s dried citrus peel and coriander seed as well as tropical fruit, angelica, cardamom and a little fresh mint leaves.

Palate: There’s a lot more citrus (lemon zest) on the palate along with another helping of that warming baking spice, some liquorice, spicy juniper, clove, hints of Earl Grey tea and a little cardamom. 

Finish: There are some lingering floral notes and piney juniper in a dry, peppery finish.

Maidstone Distillery

Ranscombe Wild Gin

Nose: Through touches of rich spice, bright juniper and exotic citrus there’s a floral medley of mint, oregano, rocket, dry grass and a little nuttiness. 

Palate: The palate is herbaceous and earthy at its core with mellow and sweet floral notes providing a nice contrast alongside some more citrus warmth and mint.

Finish: Long, peppery and delicately sweet.

Maidstone Distillery

Sharp’s Toffee Liqueur

Tasting note: A big, decadent slab of chewy toffee is joined by molasses, creamy vanilla ice cream, a little condensed milk, and Cadbury Eclairs.

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Master of Malt visits… Anno Distillers

Kent’s first whisky, science and new products (look out for MoM exclusive…) were all topics of discussion when we visited the wonderful Anno Distillery back in January. Which you can…

Kent’s first whisky, science and new products (look out for MoM exclusive…) were all topics of discussion when we visited the wonderful Anno Distillery back in January. Which you can see for yourself. We got it all on film.

I don’t know if you get on with your neighbours, but at MoM Towers, we’re delighted to have Anno Distillery just down the road from us. Among all the hop fields, sandy beaches and medieval castles of Kent are distilleries, many of them quite new and releasing all kinds of tasty booze at break-neck speed. Anno, the county’s first gin distillery in 200 years, has certainly been busy in the last decade creating a range of gins, vodkas and even Kent’s first whisky along the way.

We were invited for a visit to learn about its history, how the founder’s background in science impacts distillation and more. Which we did. But we went one better and filmed our tour so you can enjoy it as well. Particularly useful given many of you won’t have been able to visit any distilleries for the time being.

We begin at the beginning because we’re mavericks like that. Dr. Any Reason joins us to tell us about how he founded the brand in 2011 with Dr Norman Lewis (hence the name: it’s a combination of the first two letters of Andy and Norman). Dr Reason outlines how the brand created its distillery in Marden, where his love of spirits began, what the ambition for Anno Distillers was and even offers us a little glimpse into its future…

While whisky may be produced all over the world now until recently you couldn’t buy a whisky that was produced in the garden of England. In this video, Dr Reason tells us the story behind Kent’s very first whisky, how the brand partnered with Westerham Brewery to create this unique bottling and why it was matured in a medium-charred ex-bourbon cask that had previously held Speyside whisky.

As a former PhD research and development chemist, Dr Reason (by the way, amazing name. Sounds like an X-Men character) already had a keen understanding of the process of distillation. In this interview, he outlines how this background in science gave the brand an edge to make delicious booze, what kind of profile of gin he wanted to create and more. Bonus fact:  The logo, a registered trademark, demonstrates this influence as it was found in a 17th-century German text, and was recorded as the alchemical sign for distillation.

Assistant distiller Jake Sedge joins us now to give us a guided tour of the distillery and walk us through the production process. We meet Patience, Anno’s 300-litre copper pot still (Anno has come a long since experimenting in Dr Reason’s kitchen with a 2 litre still) which got its name thanks to an arduous 18-month wait for a licence. Sedge then explains how each set of botanicals are distilled in order for the brand to make its award-winning gin.

Sedge returns to underline the importance of water in distillation and how Anno filters its ultra-pure water in-house and then introduces us to Defiance, a smaller still the brand has on-site to conduct experiments with. Currently, Anno is looking to create its first rum. Is that a Master of Malt exclusive?! I think it is. There’s even talk of brandy. How very exciting.

Fancy blending you own gin and taking home a personalised bottle? Our good friend Jake Sedge is back again to talk us through the Marden distillery’s blending experience. He offers his expert advice, presents the many flavour options available to you and makes his own tasty example (which changed colour when he added tonic. Neat.). Did you know that you get to make your own unique label and keep a record of your recipe in the blending notebook so you can reorder the blend in future, direct from the distillery? Awesome.

Finally, we taste the Anno range with Anno sales and marketing director Kim Reason. If you’re thinking of picking up a bottle of its Kent Dry and 60² gins or a flavoured expression like its Orange and Honey Gin, B3rry Pink Gin or Elderflower Vodka then you’ll want to watch this. Best of luck picking one. They’re all very tasty.

Anno Distillers

We hope you enjoyed the tour!

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Take a VR tour of Chase Distillery with MoM!

Come and take a tour of Chase Distillery in Herefordshire thanks to our good friend virtual reality… Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a…

Come and take a tour of Chase Distillery in Herefordshire thanks to our good friend virtual reality…

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. The Chase Distillery welcomes us this week to see how it creates its award-winning gins and vodkas. Enjoy!

Chase Distillery was founded by William Chase, who you may know as the guy who made very tasty crisps. After selling Tyrrells in 2008 for almost £40 million, he set up Chase Distillery with the profits. Crisps and booze? This guy is my hero. The £3m distillery operates out of Chase’s farm in Herefordshire, with one of the world’s tallest copper distillation columns (70ft in size), and maintains a sustainable approach to creating spirits. All waste produce goes to feed its herd of pedigree Hereford cattle, and wherever possible, the fresh ingredients used in its products are sourced from the farm, including its King Edward and Lady Claire potatoes, as well as cider apples.

VR tour of Chase Distillery

All that talk of crisps and booze has put me in the mood for a spot of tasty indulgence. If you’re also persuaded, then you should give Chase Pink Grapefruit and Pomelo Gin a go. It’s a supremely delicious summer tipple that will come into its own as the weather picks up but for now, will bring a ray of sunshine into your own home. It’s available with £5 off and we can deliver straight to your door. There’s also a discount on Chase GB Gin and Chase Rhubarb and Bramley Apple Gin. What are you waiting for?

Chase Pink Grapefruit and Pomelo Gin Tasting Note:

Fresh tropical fruit notes sit up front, with plenty of enjoyable citrus acidity at its core. Juniper notes act as a spicy foil to the full-bodied sweetness.

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Behold, the World Gin Awards 2020 winners!

It’s official: the World Gin Awards are out! Now you can grab yourself a bottle, make yourself a Gin & Tonic, settle down and tell yourself that you’re drinking the…

It’s official: the World Gin Awards are out! Now you can grab yourself a bottle, make yourself a Gin & Tonic, settle down and tell yourself that you’re drinking the world’s best gin. Now that’s something to brag about. From aged expressions to best Old Tom, we’ve rounded up the best of the best right here. 

world gin awards

It may be easy to see awards as vacuous and unimportant, but with numerous rounds of blind tasting, Gin Magazine’s World Gin Awards is sure to single out spirits that are truly outstanding and worthy of your time as well as your taste buds. Gin-thusiasts, read on!

world gin awards

Drinks by the Dram World Gin Awards Winners 2020 Tasting Set

Want to taste the winners without committing to an entire bottle? Drinks by the Dram has gone and created a handy tasting set boasting five 30cl drams of award-winning gin from this year’s World Gin Awards! You’ll find Bathtub Gin, Lubuski Aged Gin, Marylebone Orange & Geranium Gin, Hayman’s Spiced Sloe Gin and Sky Wave Gin, all in one nifty box. Who says convenience can’t be delicious too?

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World’s Best Matured Gin: Lubuski Aged Gin

Poland’s Lubuski distillery secured World’s Best Matured Gin this year with its Aged Gin! A combination of oak and chestnut casks gives this one silky caramel alongside green oak notes. One to test twists of classic cocktails with, we reckon.

world gin awards

World’s Best Old Tom Gin (Sweden Country Winner): Hernö Old Tom Gin

Sweden’s Country Winner here, with the wonderful Hernö just continuing to scoop up awards! With the same base botanicals as Hernö Dry Gin, though with a dialled up amount of meadowsweet, honey and sugar are also added post distillation for that hallmark Old Tom sweetness.

world gin awards

World’s Best Flavoured Gin: Marylebone Orange & Geranium Gin

It turns out that geraniums aren’t just for the garden thanks to Marylebone Orange & Geranium Gin, the work of London’s Pleasure Gardens Distilling Co.! As you’d expect, it’s all about the floral and citrus notes in this one.

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World’s Best Compound Gin: Bathtub Gin

Don’t be fooled by the bootlegger name, Bathtub Gin is a far cry from the Prohibition spirits of old. From England’s very own Ableforth’s comes this year’s World’s Best Compound Gin, named for the 1920s Prohibition method of infusing botanicals in a bathtub. The highly aromatic gin sees the infusion of six botanicals through cold compounding resulting in a rich, viscous mouthfeel boasting orange citrus, fragrant spices and a good core of juniper. 

world gin awards

World’s Best Sloe Gin: Hayman’s Spiced Sloe Gin

How to make sloe gin even more warming? Give it a good kick of spice! The wonderful Hayman’s steeped its own Sloe Gin in sloe fruit flowers and a whole host of seasonal spices to create this Spiced Sloe Gin, which will do rather well as a fruity evening sipper. 

world gin awards

World’s Best Contemporary Gin (Japan Country Winner): Ki No Tea Gin

From the city’s first dedicated gin distillery comes the Kyoto Distillery’s Ki No Tea Gin! Japan’s Country Winner, it was the second release from the distillery and the tasty result of a partnership with local tea grower and blender Hori-Shichimeien. Tencha and Gyokuro teas are among the botanicals used, so it’s full of floral tea notes alongside prominent juniper.

world gin awards

World’s Best London Dry Gin (Australia Country Winner): Manly Spirits Co Australian Dry Gin

If you want to sip on a taste of Australia’s east coast, Australia’s Manly Spirits Co. has bottled up just that with its Australian Dry Gin, Australia’s Country Winner this year. It’s jam-packed full of sustainably foraged Australian botanicals such as sea lettuce, finger lime and mountain pepperberry. A refreshing, savoury and peppery affair, this one.

world gin awards

World’s Best Navy Gin (America Country Winner): Conniption Navy Strength Gin

We journey to Durham, North Carolina for America’s Country Winner in the World’s Best Navy Gin category, with the spicy and sweet Conniption Navy Strength Gin! Juniper, cardamom and rosemary are vapour infused in a pot still, while citrus and fig are vacuum distilled at room temperature before being blended together and bottled up at 57% ABV.

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