Monday, 23 May 2022

Come and make your owngin, says distillery ‘school’

Come and make your owngin, says distillery ‘school’

A DISTILLERY in Binfield Heath is inviting people to make their own gin.

Henley Distillery held an opening ceremony for its new “school” where customers will be able to still, flavour and bottle their own.

On Monday, Henley Mayor Michelle Thomas cut a ribbon at what was her first mayoral engagement since her appointment that morning.

After being served a G&T made from Henley Gin, she said: “For a first mayoral visit, this is definitely pretty good.

“What the distillery has done here is so impressive and I wish it every success for the future.”

The business is run by Jacob Wilson, 28, a master distiller, who is helped by his father Alan, mother Terry and girlfriend Katie Blythe, who live together in Fawley.

The distillery, which opened in June last year, is based in several restored 18th century barns and produces small batches of hand-crafted gins using 300-litre copper stills that are heated over open flames. Mr Wilson calls the stills his “grandparents”.

The signature product of the distillery is Henley Gin, which won best London dry gin in England at this year’s World Gin Awards.

As part of the new “experience”, guests are given their own mini copper still along with jars of pre-measured alcohol, water and juniper berries to make their gin.

They can choose from more than 100 different botanicals, ranging from cardamon pods and coriander seeds to English breakfast tea and seaweed.

The distilling process takes around 30 to 40 minutes, with the solution then collected in a beaker. At this stage, the gin has an alcohol level of about 82 per cent so it is diluted with water until it reaches the distillery’s standard level of
42 per cent.

The gin is then bottled and the maker is able to name their personalised blend and take their bottles home.

Mr Wilson said: “The beauty of this is that people are making something that is unique to them.

“I wouldn’t dream of telling someone they couldn’t mix one botanical with another. I might give them a nudge in a certain direction but they are completely independent in the gin-making process.”

The distillery will be running the gin-making sessions on Saturdays and hopes to add more days later.

Mr Wilson said: “I think it will be a really great group experience, whether it’s birthdays, wedding parties, or corporate events.

“At the end of it, guests get to try each other’s gins, so it’s fun.”

Mr Wilson Snr, 60, who designed and built the distillery, said: “We are about to get two new stills, which will increase our capacity from 3,000 bottles a week to 7,000.

“At the busiest times like Christmas and the summer months, this will really help.

“We currently are looking to bring on our first full-time employee — someone who’s not part of the family.

“As well as this, we are expanding the distillery itself as we will start using the barn next door, which is under construction. That will be used mainly for storage.”

The Henley Gin Experience costs £100 per person.

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