British gin is having a bit of a moment, drawing on it's strong and vibrant history. From its European inspiration in the 17th century, gin has been a regular fixture for the discerning British drinker. More recently the UK's taste for gin has reached new heights, 49 new distilleries opened last year, yearly sales within the UK are expected to soon hit £1 billion.
It wasn't that long ago that gin was just gin – a single drink that came with tonic and a slice of lemon. Today – after a remarkable renaissance that has led to scores of different options and flavours – gin is the spirit leading a cocktail revolution.
The UK’s “gin renaissance” has been under way for several years as tastes and drinking habits have changed. The shift to eating out and early evening parties has inspired a craft industry of flavoured gins.
With this fascinating new interest in artisan gins, we were keen to include one distilled locally in our most recent photo shoot, and it is my absolute favourite gin of the moment! (Thankfully our props did not include ice, so we kept the lid firmly closed whist we were working!!).
I visited the Silent Pool at the foot of the North Downs many years ago, when it was simply a pool on the side of steep hill in the woods. I clearly remember the stillness and eariness of the place, but most of all I remember the breathtaking blue opalescence of the water, a characteristic of chalk spring-fed ponds. The design of the Silent Pool bottle is a delight and uniquely captures all the memories of what I saw that day.
Silent Pool Distillery
Silent Pool Distillers is an artisan distillery founded in the spring of 2014. With a vision of creating hand-crafted, premium spirits, they located their distillery on the banks of the spring-fed Silent Pool, on the Duke of Northumberland’s Albury Estate.
They enabled the renovation and rebuilding of several derelict farm buildings in the beautiful Surrey Hills. Their still is powered the traditional way, burning locally sourced hard wood in an English vintage steam boiler that they reclaimed. Where possible, they use locally sourced botanicals for their gin, such as Lavender supplied by a nearby Surrey farm. They add value to local businesses by distilling their excess by-products, such as turning apple cider into ‘calvados’ or wine into Eau de Vie.
Their spirits are entirely crafted at the distillery, from distilling to bottling, and all with local staff. They released our flagship brand Silent Pool Gin onto the UK market in April 2015 to critical acclaim and awards and now produce additional gin variants including Navy Strength, liquors, vodka and fruit Schnapps as well as private contracting distilling. Our products are distributed locally, across the UK and now export across Europe and further afield.
Silent Pool Gin is their signature product, created by Cory Mason their Master Distiller. The gin takes its name from the mythical spring-fed Silent Pool from which they draw their water. Each batch is crafted by hand in a bespoke copper still designed exclusively for their distillery. They power their still the traditional way, burning locally sourced hard wood in a vintage steam boiler. Using fresh spring water pumped from the Silent Pool, and the finest 24 botanicals, they have succeeded in creating a smooth, full-flavoured gin that is traditional yet refreshingly individual.
A unique four-stage process is involved in making Silent Pool Gin. The primary botanicals are steeped in high proof alcohol to extract the more rounded flavours. Next, a ‘tea’ infusion of kaffir lime leaves, chamomile, rose and elderflower is macerated to release bright forward flavours. A third set of delicate botanicals are placed in a basket at the neck of the still to introduce a further layer of complexity. Finally, the spirit passes through a rectifying column which amplifies and shapes the unique flavour of our intricately crafted gin. It is this combination of artistry, craftsmanship and precision that makes Silent Pool such an extraordinary gin.
Silent Pool Gin is packaged in a distinctive teal and copper bottle. The design brief was to create an intriguing bottle that drew consumers to reach out and engage as well as a distinctive visual signature recognisable without seeing the product name.
Quality cues include the heavy and high quality glass bottle, the glass stopper, copper foil capsule and metallic print ‘filigree’ decoration. The packaging tells the story of the gin. The colour of the glass represents the steely blue tinge of the Silent Pool from which we draw our water, the copper coloured design is a nod to our bespoke copper still, the pattern contains most of the botanicals and local honey used to make the gin and if you look carefully the maiden and the knight in the Pool’s ancient myth are featured alongside the Ducral crown of our landlord, the Duke of Northumberland.
Until very recently I had no idea how many ingredients can go into making gin, I naively thought it was just juniper berries. No wonder there are so many new artisan distillers out there, the possibilities are endless!
A friend recently attended a gin making course at Adnams distillery in Southwold, Suffolk and was lucky enough to produce a bottle of her own to take home. The ingredients in her unique blend included: Juniper, Cardamom, Grains of Paradise, Earl Grey Tea, Hibiscus, Lemon Peel, Orris Root, Sweet Orange and Coconut. Just waiting now for an invite to go and test it out!
Shalford Mill: From botanics to bottles: the gin journey
For gin lovers and those that are gin curious, The Silent Pool Distillery have a great story of passion, art and science to share and award winning gins to taste at Shalford Mill on Wed 29th June.
If you want to try some of these artisan gins for yourself, head for the Holborn Dining Room - Gin Bar, near Covent Garden.
Relaxed and stylish, the copper-topped Gin Bar at Holborn Dining Room offers London’s largest collection of Gin. The Gin Bar features over 400 Gins and 27 tonics, including their very own signature tonic, made in-house using a top secret recipe. Gin lovers can savour over 14,035 possible Gin and tonic pairings from well-known international brands to small-batch and local distillers to choose from. The bar menu includes new Gin cocktails and much-loved classics, as well as a selection of spirits, fine wines and craft beers.