What did you do before creating your distillery and Sky Wave Gin?
Rachel was a BBC journalist and TV news anchor, and Andrew was an Army Officer in the Royal Signals.
What made you decide to create and launch a gin?
As life-long gin fans always searching for the perfect gin, we attended a Gin School purely for interest. However, we created such a fabulous recipe that even the Master Distiller was impressed, and all the other students wanted to drink our gin and not theirs! We thought that perhaps we had hit on something, and within a day had bought a still from Portugal and began researching licensing requirements. Within 6 months we had perfected our recipe and launched our first gin, and our belief in this fabulously smooth gin was confirmed when it went on to be named the World’s Best Contemporary Gin 2020 at The World Gin Awards just 18 months later.
What's the inspiration behind Sky Wave Gin?
The inspiration behind our gins is the combination of the adventures we have had in our former careers and the spirit of Oxfordshire where we are based; some of the botanicals are sourced from the faraway places we have adventured, whilst others are foraged locally to us in our beloved Oxfordshire.
Can you tell us more about the distillery?
Our current facility is incredibly small and, as our business has expanded hugely since we launched, we have now outgrown it. However, in December 2020 we move into a larger distillery in a Grade II listed building and are upgrading our production capability four-fold, which is very exciting. We’re still small and genuinely craft but can now host visitors, which we are hugely looking forward to.
What is your distillation process?
For our London Dry gins, we adhere strictly to the one-shot process. Absolutely nothing is added after distillation except the Blenheim Palace Natural Mineral Water that we use to cut the gin. It truly is at the pinnacle of the craft because we have just one chance to get every batch right – there can be no tweaking or blending afterwards. What comes off our still goes directly into your bottle, and we’re very proud of this. We also have very strong views about our stills. They are effectively pot stills with simple copper columns. We do not believe in reflux plates or dephlegmators because we believe they strip flavour and mouthfeel.
What will visitors be able to experience at the new distillery?
From January 2021 we will be hosting Sky Wave Gin Experiences at our distillery, in line with Covid regulations. Our guests will visit in exclusive groups and on arrival will be welcomed with a Sky Wave Gin and tonic. They’ll meet our award winning distillers, hear the Sky Wave Gin story and be able to ask them questions. They’ll be introduced to our two stills, Tessie and Basca, and learn about the distillation process, seeing them in operation if we’re distilling that day. We’ll guide them through the whole production process ending with a unique tutored tasting that allows guests to experience and discover all our gins. We’ll talk through what makes a fabulous gin and what they can be looking for as they taste, ending with a relaxing G&T in the bar and the chance to take some Sky Wave Gin home.
What have been the biggest challenges and achievements so far?
Everything! It’s been such a fantastic journey from launching the business just two years ago to being named 'The World’s Best Contemporary Gin 2020', a fortnight before Lockdown! We have loved all the experiences we’ve had, from being asked to run a Gin Bar at the Classic Car Show Weekend with just over a week's notice to being let down by cork suppliers the day before our biggest gin festival of the year. But we have met so many wonderful people. The craft gin industry really is made up of the most generous and helpful people who have been kind to us at every step of the way. In fact, we have learnt so much about this industry over the last 2 years that we were approached to write a book about it, which will be published in February 2021.
How would you describe each of your gins in 3 words?
What's your favourite way to drink your gins?
We have grown accustomed to drinking gin neat due to being involved in many international competitions, where that is the norm, and our gins are all smooth enough to be drunk this way. But other than that, Rachel’s favourite is in a very dry Martini, whereas Andy still loves a classic G&T, with a strict tonic to gin ratio of 2:1 to avoid drowning the gin.
Which gins would you always have on your gin shelf?
We adore Barney Wilczak’s work at the Capreolus Distillery, so we always have a bottle of Garden Swift to hand. Tarquin’s Gin is also fabulous, as is Salcombe Gin. Saint Aman’s Gin from France is also great and Twisting Spirits in Gloucestershire make a really interesting range.
What's next for you and Sky Wave Gin - any exciting plans?
We’ve picked up 10 medals in Gin Awards this year – so it will be a feat to top it! We’re very excited about our newest gin which is released in November. It’s a Cask Aged edition with an ultra exclusive run of just 400 bottles. The incredibly smooth edition takes our multi award winning Signature London Dry on a new journey. It has been resting in a Vermouth cask for a secret length of time and the result is sublime. Nestling in a luxurious gift box, it’s a perfect premium gift for the true gin lover. We have just launched pre-orders on our website and have been overwhelmed with the response!
We are also launching a new London Dry in 2021 with a real Oxfordshire feel to it. We’re continuing to expand our team – we have a great group of people with a real family atmosphere. Most of all we are looking forwards towards to welcoming gin enthusiasts into our fabulous new distillery and sharing our story - and gin - with them. The next few months and 2021 are set to be fantastic for Sky Wave Gin.
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