Sourcing ingredients for our Gin, how local can you get?

Generation 11 - our first 2.5L stillOur beautiful 2.5L copper pot still arrived from Portugal and we were keen to get her up and running to try out our recipes.  We had applied for our rectification and compounders license and in March 2017 we began distilling for the first time. 

We wanted something traditional with strong juniper, but also spicy, so we set off  blending spices, locally foraged botanicals (gorse flower tasting of coconut was a favourite) with traditional botanical blends to create our perfect Gin.  Our early endeavours were actually not too bad, but by recipe 11 we had hit on a lovely blend of flavour.  The spice came through, the citrus made it bright and fresh, with the addition of lavender lifting the gin and giving it an elegance that we loved.   The fact that it was recipe 11 and it was going to be called Generation 11 was not lost on us either!

Our wonderful botanical suppliers – based 3 villages away had talked to us about their investment in English Coriander and the opportunity for us to use it in our Gins.  The flavour from the samples was extraordinary – pungent coriander and warm citrus with lovely spicy notes too!  We just had to change our recipe to include it and it tasted delicious.

By the summer we had a gin that we were happy to put our name on, a bigger still (250L!) on its way, and had visited the beautiful fields from which our coriander seed was to come (only 2 villages away, you can’t get more local than that!)  We had met a chap at a market in nearby Lewes who sold lavender and lavender products, and although he didn’t produce enough lavender for us, this product was amazing and drove us to demand so much more from this ingredient. We had beautiful samples from a number of local farms and started working with a farm over the county border in Kent who were able to provide us with the lavender that we couldn’t grow ourselves, 

One weekend while having a few gins with lovely friends we were in our orchard and talking about the opportunities that this would give us for the future, when we came across our well.  The conversation that followed led to us making the decision that we would have the water tested to see whether it was potable and whether we could use it in the making of our gin.  Water is so important in spirit production because both the process and the bottled product contains so much of it, and from a distiller’s point of view, the quality of the water is vitally important in the quality of the finished product – go to any whisk(e)y distillery and you will hear more about the importance of the water that goes into it than you ever thought you would want to know.

We guessed that our well was about 30 metres deep, getting water samples out without a pump was a frustrating, time consuming and downright hilarious process…think children’s buckets, fishing rods and weights, but we had a perfect water source and we were so pleased to use it in our Gin.  A brilliant guy (and gin enthusiast) came to install the pump and re-commission the well for us, and tells us that the well shaft it is a mighty 25 metres deep and that the water is as deep as 14 metres- we won’t be running out of water anytime soon!