What did you do before creating your brand and gins?
Caroline was an IT consultant and magazine publisher and Catharine was a former Fleet Street journalist turned university lecturer.
What made you decide to create your gins, and what's the inspiration behind your brand?
We are old university friends with diverse professional backgrounds, and with our children having flown the nest we felt it was a good time to have an adventure. We both love gin and decided to go to Gin School in Bakewell for a week-long course – it all grew from there!
What is the meaning and story behind the Modern Art Distillery brand name?
We share a love of spirits and art. We came up with the idea of combining these passions to produce high quality spirits that would provide a canvas for emerging artists by allowing them to display their artwork on our bottle labels. Modern Art Distillery – or M.A.D for short – encapsulated this and offered a neat, catchy and distinctive brand name.
Can you tell us more about the distillery you work with?
Our gins are produced at the amazing Hensol Castle near Cardiff (we also produce rum and vodka there). We spend time with the Master Distiller devising original and imaginative recipes - for example, we came up with a Blueberry & Bergamot flavoured gin, and there is sumac, a Middle Eastern spice, in our London Dry Gin. We have a great relationship with the team at Hensol Castle – they really grasp our concept and support our creative approach. We would love to have our own distillery but working with Hensol Castle has allowed us to focus on the brand, setting up the business and sourcing artists.
Can you tell us more about your distillation process and botanicals?
The spirits are distilled in a 400L modern copper pot still with a rectifier’s column and vapour infusion basket, giving them a fresh and smooth flavour. Our London Dry is a juniper-forward recipe with seven botanicals sourced from around the world - wild hibiscus, pink peppercorn and cassia bark with a citrus burst of the Middle Eastern spice sumac plus fresh lemon and lime leaf. Our Blueberry & Bergamot Gin is based on a floral and citrus driven London Dry blended with blueberries, bergamot and a splash of redcurrants.
What are your favourite ways to drink your gins?
We keep it simple, to allow the flavours to speak for themselves.
Desert Island Gins: Which 3 gins would you take with you and why?
What is your long-term ambition for the M.A.D brand and your gins?
We have endless ideas for our brand, and we’re always thinking about new flavours – we’d like to bring out a new addition to our range annually as well as have our own distillery at some point in the future. Selecting artwork to align with the flavours is one of our greatest pleasures and we’d like M.A.D to become a household name - to create a real buzz every time we launch a new flavour and accompanying artwork. A distillery with an art gallery – that’s the dream!
What's next for you and your gin/distillery - any exciting plans?
We are coming up to our first anniversary in April and looking back we’ve achieved such a lot – we’ve been shortlisted for the Gift of the Year Award and won Lux Life Magazine’s award for the most innovative spirits company in the South West, among many of our achievements. Our second year will be about building on this success and getting our name out there to customers and the trade - we’re booked in for several events over the summer to meet customers face-to-face and will be reaching out to pubs, restaurants and retail outlets. We’ll also be looking at bespoke products, such as short runs for weddings, corporate events and gifts.
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