What did you do before creating The Shropshire Distillery and your gins?
Following a move from Lancashire to Shropshire several years ago we decided that Gareth, a former chemical engineer, motorbike race and test ride, would finish work to build and set up our 'Gin Shed’ distillery. Emma continued working full-time in education and also worked on the paperwork and admin side of things to establish our own distillery, including the licence to enable us to produce and sell our gin. Then an opportunity arose for Gareth to consult for Triumph Motorcycles. This saw a switch of roles and Emma took the leap, leaving her full-time employment to run the distillery.
What made you decide to create your distillery and gins?
We both have a love of gin - we were purchasing many different bottles and found that some were contract distilled and not created where they said when purchased, so we decided to make our own. We wanted to have our own business to fit in with family life and to move away from the mundane 9-5 working life. We have creative personalities and so wanted to be able to create new and interesting products on our terms and with our ideas.
What's the distillery like and can you tell us about the distillation process and/or botanicals?
We have just moved from our 'Gin Shed’ at our home to a purpose-built larger distillery and visitors' centre which we will open to the public for gin tours and experience.
We have 4 stills – Jean and Anne are the two hard working stills creating our gins, and then we have Hermione, our vacuum still, and our development still too. We also initially have 5 small copper stills for our Gin Making Experiences. We anticipate more of these in the future but are keeping the numbers at 5 due to allow for social distancing.
Can you tell us more about the distillation process?
We use a traditional copper pot still distillation using a ‘one shot’ method, meaning everything goes into the copper pot and what comes out is what we bottle. We have our own Reverse Osmosis system on site and use this to purify our water, which is then blended with our gins to reduce the %ABV of our distilled gins. All of our gins are bottled at 40% ABV.
We undertake the entire process, being hands-on at every stage to create truly artisan Gins made with dedication, care and passion. Each bottle is numbered, batch numbered and signed by hand.
Can you tell us more about the botanicals?
We use sustainably and ethically sourced botanicals from here in the UK and across the world. We skilfully blend these to add vigour and complexity to the flavour profile along with our traditional distilling methods which contribute to the smooth nature of each of our gins.
Can you tell us more about your gin collaborations?
We love collaborating with local business and organisations. We love challenges and love getting creative, and it enables us to work with many different people along with their ideas. We collaborate with James Sherwin at Wild Shropshire and have produced two foraged gins with James. We will be looking to release 2-4 per year of these. We have also produced a blue gin for Wyle Blue Bar in Shrewsbury who wanted their very own gin. Just like our Cherry Gin, this is coloured naturally following distillation so no artificial flavours or nasties are being added.
What can people expect and experience if they visit the distillery?
A big warm welcome from our family to yours, with a G&T of course! You can expect rustic, wooden and industrial vibes with a family feel. You will meet us the makers, have an insight into us, our story and our love of all things gin, as well as a tour of the distillery and seeing where the magic happens. You can even make your own magic in your very own still! There'll be more G&Ts throughout your experience and the opportunity to sample any of our limited edition/small run gins we are producing.
What have been the biggest achievements so far?
Releasing our first Shire Gin in July 2018 and being awarded two IWSC awards in July 2019. The fact we are self-building a new and larger purpose-built distillery is such an achievement too, especially as we are only just 2 years old!
How would you describe your gins in 3 words?
Classic, handcrafted, honest.
What's your favourite way to drink your gins?
With family and friends, lots of ice, a premium tonic and plenty of GIN!
What gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!)?
We love a craft gin rather than mast produced so are always on the look out on our travels for locally produced craft gins - an example being Merywen based just down the road from us in Wales or Forest Gin whom we can relate to in their early days who started distilling at home and who are also a husband and wife team!
What's next for Shire Gin - any exciting plans?
Our next and newest of exciting plans is the BIG move to our new distillery which is imminent. Once we have moved in and settled in production wise we will be working to open up to the public for distillery tours, experiences and events.
We will always undertake the distilling ourselves but would like to employ local people to work in the distillery to undertake a variety of tasks such as bottling, packing, admin, front of house and using their expertise and experience to continue to growing The Shropshire Distillery.
We have some other new and exciting collaborations which we are working on and will be releasing over the coming months. And we will also release our own limited edition gins following the success of our Mojito Gin in Summer 2019 and our Festive Gin in December 2019.
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