What did you do before establishing Winchester Distillery?
I formerly worked as an independent software developer, working mainly with financial institutions in the city of London.
What made you decide to start distilling and launch your distillery and gin?
I spent so much time commuting that I felt like a visitor in my own hometown of Winchester. I desperately needed a change of pace in life. I wanted a new challenge that would enable me to become more embedded in Winchester and spend more time with my family. After being granted my license, I decided to take 6 months off work to try to get a gin to market. At the time I accepted that if Winchester Distillery wasn't successful then at least I had scratched that itch and would get back on that train to London. Thankfully, Twisted Nose was a success and we would sell-out each weekend at the Farmer's Markets in Winchester. Before I knew it I had run out of space at home and had to move to larger premises. I've not looked back since.
What's the inspiration behind your Twisted Nose gin?
Hampshire is well-known for its rolling hills, clear chalk streams and watercress beds. These unique characteristics formed the inspiration for our first gin, Twisted Nose. Winchester Distillery is now home to a full range of hand-crafted premium spirits using traditional methods, modern energy-saving equipment and each inspired by the botanicals which grow within our surrounding landscape.
What is the meaning behind the name of your Twisted Nose Gin?
The name of our bestselling gin, Twisted Nose derives from the latin name for watercress, Nasus Turtus. This literally translates into Twisted Nose.
Can you tell us more about your distillery and your stills?
Winchester Distillery is a few minutes walk from Winchester city centre. We use a 150-litre Bain Marie still to distil all of our gins, she's called Persephone and is the perfect size for small batches. Recently we purchased a 500-litre column iStill for the production of our rums, vodka and whiskey.
Can you tell us more about your distillation process and botanicals?
Watercress is the main botanical in our Twisted Nose gin. It's picked early in the morning and delivered straight to the distillery where it's blended and added as the last botanical to the still. It's easy to think watercress could be an overpowering flavour, yet once blended it leaves a delightful peppery sparkle which gives the gin its unique, refreshing and uplifting twist. To support and balance the watercress, we use nine other botanicals – including juniper, locally grown lavender and coriander from the South Downs.
The majority of our gins are London Dry and are distilled in our 150-litre pot still. Each gin is distilled slowly to maintain the delicate aromas of the selected botanicals.
What can visitors experience if they visit the distillery for a tour and tasting?
We run tours (almost) every Saturday, but they are hugely popular so get booked up well in advance. Our distillery tours include a fun, casual but informative journey through the distillation process, showing the detail that goes into making our range of spirits, followed by an in-depth tasting of 3 spirits in our tasting room. After the tour, guests have exclusive access to our distillery shop for those who wish to take home their favourites.
What are your favourite ways to drink your gins?
You can't go wrong with a G&T. I serve mine in a highball glass filled with ice, 3:1 Indian tonic to gin, with an appropriate garnish. I'm also partial to a Negroni, you'll often catch me sipping one on a Friday evening or at the start of an evening in town.
Desert Island Gins: Which 3 gins would you take with you and why?
There are too many good gins to choose from! A passion of mine is travelling and I always try the local gins. My favourites have been Hope Gin (South Africa), Archie Rose Gin (Australia) and St. George Gin (USA).
What are your ambitions and plans for your distillery and spirits in years to come?
Our ambition is to continue building our reputation as a distillery and expanding our portfolio of high-quality spirits. Earlier this year we launched a Golden Rum and White Rum, both of which have received great reviews. We released a Limited Edition Apple Brandy which we've been ageing for the past 3 years, it's full of stewed Hampshire cider apples, and sweet spices and has a spectacularly rich fruity flavour.
Letting you into a little secret, we have our own single malt whiskey currently ageing for future release.
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