The Henley Distillery is a family business based on Hampstead Farm in Binfield Heath on the fringe of the beautiful riverside town of Henley. The distillery was launched in 2021 and is led by Jacob Wilson, a renowned expert distiller with a wonderful CV of experience and consultancy work that has seen him working with some of the finest distilleries in the UK. Having started planning and formulating the ideas for the distillery and his gins 5 years before, and of course with delays due to lockdowns, this is no flash-in-the-pan set up or a case of learning on the job - this is the culmination of all of Jacob's experience and learnings combined with the remarkable handywork of his father, Alan, who has tranformed the rustic barns into a stunning and characterful gin destination.
The distillery is currently home to two 300L copper alembic pot stills from Portugal, named after Jacob's grandfathers and soon to be joined by two more 300L stills named after Jacob's grandmothers. Rather than increasing the size of the stills to increase capacity, Jacob multiplying what he has in order to maintain his standards and processes while being able to meet the rapidly increasing amount of contract distilling that Jacob is in demand for from businesses, local venues and gin brands.
The Henley Distillery Gin Experience is a newly finished 'Gin School' that is beautifully finished and we were priviledged to visit ahead before the launch for a test run. After a talk through the history of gin and The Henley Distillery (with a healthy number of samples!) while sipping on a G&T at the comfortable bar, as well as heading across the courtyard to the main distillery building to learn all about the Henley Gin distillation process and botanicals, Jacob takes you through the key tips for creating your own gin and using the mini copper stills.
Whether you like to stick to traditional botanicals or get creative with the likes of coffee, pineapple and goji berries, you are free to develop your own gin, with Jacob on hand to assist with expert advice. And once your gin has distilled you're ready to bottle it up, give it a name and head over to the bar again to give your masterpiece a try in a G&T!
And of course, our visit wouldn't be complete without presenting Jacob and Alan with their 'New Distillery of the Year 2022' certificate (photo below - ahead of their Glencairn Glass trophy arriving!) as well as their Traditional Gin category 'Winner' certificate for their Classic Gin, and Spiced Gin category 'Winner' certificate for their Oriental Spiced Gin. The 'New Distillery of the Year 2022' Award is presented to the distillery launched in 2021 whose gins have acheived the highest average score across the blind tasting categories of The Gin Guide Awards 2022 - a truly exceptional achievement that is real testament to what Jacob and his family have created and how effectively they have applied their experience and skill. Congratulations!