What made you decide to create Dryad Gin, and what's the inspiration behind it?
Sheila, my Mum (She’ll to those who know her well), was one heck of an extraordinary lady; we lost her in 2021. Beaming with warmth and a friendly smile she was the most welcoming of souls; full of life. She’ll dedicated many years of her life to hospitality, owning and running The Packhorse B&B in Allerford, where she made a thriving home for her family and many happy years for many of her returning guests.
She loved her gin, often dedicating various times of day to Gin O’clock and so enjoyed any experience which involved drinking and having fun with others, especially her friends at The Kildare Lodge in Minehead.
She is represented on the images as a blackbird. You can see the Dryad releasing the blackbird who drops the final magical ingredient into Dryad Gin as it flies across. We also have a little ritual toast called The Blackbird’s Beak. It’s now custom to pour a ‘blackbird’s beakful’ of Dryad Gin over your shoulder and back into the earth to honour this creative collaboration and our co-existence with nature. The gin is her legacy creating warmth and laughter.
What is the meaning and story behind the Dryad Gin name and brand?
Drenched in mythology and a spiritual connection with nature, the gin takes its name from the ethereal nymph spirits that gave their lives to protect the majestic oak trees that have fed our land for centuries.
As guardian of the woodlands and the groves beyond, our dryad, affectionately known as Dry, would use her disarming charm and resourceful nature to shield the trees from harm. Dry spent many an evening dancing between the trees, bathed in warm dappled light, duty-bound to protect their potent powers.
She wasn’t the only guardian of the glades, however...
A most beguiling character – half-man, half-horse – also called them home. Whilst most centaurs were wildly mischievous, Chiron was a wise sage and renowned polymath who would while away the hours experimenting with everything from prophecy to archery, botany to pharmacy.
Bound by their wild hearts, Dry and Chiron would glide through the glades sharing the secrets of Somerset and swapping stories about the local flora and fauna ‘til no stone was left unturned. Chiron would call upon this expertise to brew fantastical elixirs from botanicals foraged from the rolling hedgerows, hoping to create a drink that recalled the wonders of the woodland with each sip.
One spring evening, Chiron was attempting to figure out a fusion that best captured those fabled days, pouring thimblefuls of this and thumbing handfuls of that to no avail. He stood bemused, marvelling at the fields painted gold in the half-light. Unbeknownst to him, a blackbird nestled in a nearby tree had been watching his every move.
The blackbird knew exactly what Chiron needed to perfect his potion and was sitting with a peck of it hidden in its beak for safekeeping. As time went by and Chiron’s bemusement grew, the blackbird swept across the sky and dropped the secret ingredient into the potion before Chiron’s very eyes. The brew came to life in an instant, the bottle blooming with faded memories of balmy evenings spent roaming the rolling hills. Chiron greedily supped from the bottle. Each sip sang of the guiding light of home – of chosen kinfolk, of tables laden with treats, and of rooms aflame with love and laughter.
Can you tell us more about the distillery you work with and the distillation process?
I used a small copper still to create my Dryad Gin recipe. I have a contract distiller who makes up my gin and my first batch is 600 bottles. The still my distiller uses is a Bain Marie Pot Still with a reflux column.
What are your favourite ways to drink your gin?
I love drinking Dryad Gin outside where you can be close to nature. With friends is also so important to enjoy Dryad Gin.
Can you tell us more about your Pop-Up Pub?
We opened a pop-up pub as many pubs in Somerset in rural places have closed. The Dryad Inn serves local beers, wines, ciders and of course, our gin. We create gin cocktails and invite people to try out any new recipes we are developing, given the community a sense of ownership through this experience. We invite disparate groups to help bring together a wide range of people, as well as local traders, helping to support the local business community and visitor economy.
Desert Island Gins: Which 3 gins would you take with you and why?
If your brand could collaborate with any person or brand in the world, who would it be and why?
Elephant Gin would be the collaboration I would love the most. I love their mission and activism to protect Africa’s wildlife, with a particular focus on elephants and habitat conservation. I love profit for purpose.
What's next for you and Dryad Gin - any exciting plans?
I’m working on my second recipe. I want to still use Oak Bark in the production but I’m interested in using more fresh blossom in recipes. I also like the idea of seasonal syrups to accompany my gin and bitters. This is all work in progress. I’m also wanting to start the B Corp journey as this feels important to me.
Our pop up pub is opening its doors across Somerset and I love the spirit of this community engagement and collaboration.
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