What inspired you to start a gin distillery & make Pin Gin?
I have spent my whole working life in the engineering sector and one fateful morning driving to work I was contemplating what I could do with the rest of my life. My partner Amy and I have always loved drinking gin and it dawned on me that we should make a gin. I also wanted to grow Christmas trees!
My father used to make whisky and I would be constantly loitering around the still. As a young boy, absolutely fascinated with what he was doing, I would be constantly questioning and sometimes I would get a sneaky taste of the spirit! As you can imagine my dad did not approve and quickly removed me every time! This only made me more fascinated with the process.
How did you get from the idea to the finished product?
Drinking a lot of gin! we made 19 different gins to start, narrowed them down to the 2 best and then played around with the botanicals, re-distilled 5 versions of each and so on until we were happy. It took us a year to get to the finished product. It was a real eye-opener on the tasting sessions and gave us a great understanding how people's pallets worked and how different botanicals complemented each other.
We have a good friend, Steven Bennett AKA The Lincolnshire Chef – he was a great help with the flavour profiling and his advice was invaluable in reaching the finished product.
How did the name 'Pin Gin' come about?
My partner Amy was responsible for naming the gin. She wanted to honour my original plan of growing Christmas trees, so she did some wordplay with 'pine needles' and 'gin and tonic'. Pine needles become pins, gin & tonic became pin & tonic.
What are the distillery and distillation process like?
We are the definition of 'small batch' and we have converted the outbuilding of my house into the distillery. Within the 30 square meters of space we have our 35 litre alembic still which we have called 'Dotty' and we produce around 30 bottles a day. We steep our botanicals for 24 hours before distilling to release their flavours.
It is great fun buzzing around in the distillery, from distilling to sampling, bottling and labelling. Sometimes our daughter Molly comes and sits with me – Amy usually announces that the ‘Distillery Baby’ is on her way!
What is a normal day like for you?
Our day starts with Amy, myself and Molly our 5 month old daughter having breakfast and planning our day. Amy controls our administration side, answering emails and telephone calls, arranging meetings and tasting sessions for potential retailers. I aim to get the still up and running for 9am and while I'm distilling I get on with bottling, labelling and packaging. We both thoroughly enjoy making our gin and we are extremely proud of every bottle we produce.
How would you describe Pin Gin in 3 words?
Floral, complex and smooth.
What makes Pin Gin different to other gins?
Our aim when we first began to make our gin was to encapsulate the seasons and all the tastes and smells from around Lincolnshire and to do this we have used botanicals which everybody is familiar with. We wanted to create a gin which caused debate over its content and also leaves the drinker that little bit more in love with the fantastic world of gin.
We have learnt in the past year that everyone’s pallet will pull something different from each tasting. Some will pull the warming cinnamon, peppercorns and liquorice, whereas others will recognise the floral lavender and rose. We believe that this means there really is something for everyone to enjoy with a Pin & Tonic!
How do you like to serve and garnish Pin Gin?
We have two serves for Pin Gin, firstly; a double Pin with strawberries, fresh lime, ice and topped up with a premium tonic. This is a real fresh, vibrant summer drink - perfect for being out in the sunshine with friends.
Secondly, my personal favourite is a double Pin, served in a Martini glass with a cinnamon stick, a curl of orange peel and topped up with premium tonic. This is a proper winter warmer that brings out the unusual flavours and is ridiculously moreish!
What are you favourite gins (other than Pin Gin of course!)?
Great question, there are so many fantastic gins out there and I have a new favourite every week! However, my ‘go-to’ gin that I will always rely on is Martin Miller's Gin. From the way the gin is presented from bottle to glass is second to none in my eyes, and it tastes fantastic.
What's next for you and Pin Gin?
We are completely overwhelmed with the response the gin has had in the short time we have been distilling, so firstly I think we need to put maximum effort in to expanding our current capacity so more and more people can try a Pin & Tonic.Following on; we have been inundated with requests to make a Sloe gin, we want to do it a little different to the norm so watch this space.