Steve Downey, Simon Green, Dave Stanley and Allan Smith had enjoyed long careers in restaurants, food and drink retail, IT and the music business but like many people, things changed with Covid-19 lockdowns and they fancied a fresh challenge.
The idea for the Somerset Distillery started in the summer of 2020 and premises were soon found in an old quarry just south of Bristol in the village of Backwell famed for its award winning ciders in days gone past, more of which later.
Having perfected their recipe using state-of-the-art computerised stills, this small team set about distilling their signature spirit, a classic London Dry-style gin.
Distilling small batches of 100 bottles per run, the Somerset Distillery London Dry Gin is left to mature for at least five weeks, allowing the oils in the botanicals to infuse and create the gin’s uniquely refreshing flavour. Steve is quick to acknowledge that Simon’s long years in leading restaurant kitchens has given the team an advantage in experience when it comes to recipe creation.
“There are many gins out there but the quality varies enormously which is precisely what inspired us. We felt from day one that we would be able to use our experience to create an exceptional range of Somerset Spirits.
What we have brought to the market as our first spirit is a wonderfully refreshing London Dry Gin and, as Simon says, our distillation process is where ‘Science, art and efficiency’, meet. Our USP, unique selling point, is ‘less is more’, not overdoing the botanicals, small batch distillation and the most modern computerised stills. Using only six botanicals, Simon has created a classic juniper-led gin with such a distinctive taste and aroma that many gin lovers we know, including friends and family, have become converts and are drinking Somerset Dry Gin exclusively.
“We are all of the opinion that you can over-think and over-use botanicals in your recipes. Distilling is pure science and our goal is to be masterly in our recipe creations”.
With Somerset Distillery’s first gin now on sale in pubs and restaurants, off-licences and online, the team are already looking at their second product, which will reflect the part of Somerset where it’s made.
Steve says: “Our second gin is in the pipeline and, with a nod to our Somerset heritage, we will be incorporating a local apple, the Backwell Red, into our botanicals. We have already hand-processed and dried our apples for use in the coming months”.
Somerset Distillery has already attracted interest from big name chefs. Celebrity chef Mark Hix has already taken a few bottles to serve in his Dorset pub and his fish restaurant in Lyme Regis and orders are fast coming in.
Steve points out that “A very high percentage of retailers are tasting and then buying which is very gratifying after 18 months of planning and physical hard work to build the distillery. If you would like a sample please contact us and I will make sure that we deliver within a couple of days.”
A number of Somerset outlets are now stocking Somerset Dry Gin including Aimee’s Winehouse in Stoke Bishop and Backwell, Lye Cross Farm Shop on the A38, Vintage and Vine in Clevedon, The Wine Shop in Banwell, Buglers in Wrington and you can sit and enjoy a G&T with a Somerset Gin on the Somerset Levels in The Sheppey at Lower Godney. It is also available online from the distillery. The price per bottle is £35.00 for 70cl, with free postage if you buy two or more.
Visit www.somersetdistillery.com to find out more.