It’s time to take a trip to Treguddick, near Launceston, and discover the art of small batch distilling with English Spirit.
On a Thursday, me and my friend, Liv wasted no time heading up the A30 towards Launceston for a English Spirit distillery tour. I actually won this tour for 2 via an Instagram competition and what a treat it turned out to be.
Our 90 minute tour offered plenty of opportunity for tasters of all spirits and liqueurs. Our guide, Sarah, showed us around the grounds and talked us through English Spirit’s refined small batch distilling process, which has led to them producing some of the UK’s finest quality alcohol and spirits.
About English Spirit
The English Spirit Distillery is a new addition to Cornwall. Owned by Dr John Walters, the distillery lives in a converted barn in the Cornish countryside, next to a beautiful traditional farmhouse.
Dr John Walters, or Dr John, started English Spirit in 2011. After retiring from pharmaceuticals, Dr John decided to make some brandy on a bit of whim. He clearly had the magic touch (and the biochemical know how) as his first bottle was tastier than the brandy he had at home.
While English Spirit has its roots in Cambridgeshire and Essex, a Cornwall based distillery is now fully operational. English Spirit were looking for an ideal place to source ingredients for their drinks, and where better than fabulous Kernow? The distillery is only recently completed, along with an open planned visitor centre and cafe.
The English Spirit General Tour
Me and Liv booked onto one of the daily general tours. The distillery also offers Gin and Rum specific tours, but we wanted to hear about all of English Spirits products. We were given a general introduction to the brand and how it all started with a Radio 4 programme. Dr John has been crafting some of the finest spirits in the World. He’s even collaborated with Sir Ranulph Fiennes to make the UK’s first rum.
After this we headed outside to what looked like a mini Eden Project. Several small dome like greenhouses housed each of the spirits we were going to learn about.
English Spirit Rum and Vodka
The first distilled spirits on the agenda were their Seax Vodka and their Old salt Rum. Sarah explained the distinction between distilling white rum compared to dark rum, and how English Spirit use molasses, rather than traditional sugar beet. English Spirit is well known for its Old Salt Rum (no salt is added!). In fact, it was awarded World’s Best Rum at the 2014 Hong Kong Rumfest.
I didn’t know this but spiced rum came about years ago when batches of rum didn’t quite work out. The solution? Add lots of spices to improve the flavour, and you’ve got a new speciality. When it came to tasters, their English Spice Rum was right up my street. With flavours of hibiscus and english cherries it was both warming and delicious.
Sarah shared how English Spirit only need to distill their vodka once. Usually it’s 2 or 3 times, but English Spirit don’t need to do this; they’ve got it down to a fine art. Their well known vodka starts with some Essex grown sugar beet. This is fermented and distilled in a copper alembic. We tasted a drop of the Seax Vodka, and whoa, it was strong! I’m not a vodka drinker really, but when it came to their English Toffee Vodka Liqueur, it totally hit the mark!
Dr J’s Gin
Oooh, me and Liv love a cheeky gin. When it comes to making gin, it’s all about the botanicals. Gin’s actually made from vodka. It’s the addition of juniper that makes it gin and gives it that familiar taste, along with other botanicals. I have to say, Dr J’s Gin is superb – clean and light. It’s made with a combination of macadamia nuts, coriander and citrus zests, offering the hint of flavour
I’m not the only one who thinks so. Dr J’s Gin was awarded Silver in the 2017 International Wine and Spirit Competition. Sarah recommended serving it with some crushed ice and a few salted capers.
Many of us have had a sip or two of Limoncello, especially when abroad. Limongino is English Spirit’s offering, which received “Gold” in the Spirits Business Masters, 2020. With enough lemon to pack a punch, balanced with a bit of sugar, this lemon gin tasted gorgeous.
Even More Tasting
After working our way round the small domes, we headed indoors for more tasting. I confess, as I was driving I only had a few small tasters throughout the whole tour. Thankfully Liv stepped up and tried everything. It’s a hard stretch being my friend😅.
Sarah, our guide, offered tasters of English Spirits other drinks. They make Sambucca and currently have a Special Edition Christmas Spirit – definitely one to sip in front of the fire wearing fluffy socks and loungewear. Liv went home with this one, she’s a woman with fine taste.
From here we headed to the shop. All tour visitors are gifted a few small complimentary bottles of our choice (I went for the Toffee Vodka and a Spiced Rum). It was a tough choice to make. We then headed over to the cafe and had a spot of lunch (delicious!) before heading home.
You can find out more about English Spirit via their website.