Launch planned for first English gin made from grapes

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chilgrove ginPlans are under way to launch what is believed to be the first-ever gin made in England using a neutral spirit distilled from grapes.

Christopher Tetley and co‐founder Dr Celia Beaumont‐Hutchings from Chilgrove in West Sussex have combined the spirit’s heritage with contemporary ideas to develop a whole new style of English gin.

Working with master distiller Charles Maxwell at Thames Distillers, they plan to launch the super-premium Chilgrove Dry Gin on World Gin Day on June 14.

With an ABV of 44%, it is made with 11 botanicals: juniper, coriander seed, sweet orange, savory, angelica root, lime, liquorice root, orris root, grains of paradise, bitter orange and water mint.

They were inspired by gin’s Dutch antecedent, genever, which, in its early days, was distilled from grapes before producers switched to a malt spirit.

Christopher said: “It has taken many years researching and tasting the gins we respect and enjoy, along with the history of the spirit itself, to launch Chilgrove as a gin we are truly proud of.

“English gin as we know it today has its roots in 16th-century Holland and is derived from the juniper‐based drink genever which was originally made using alcohol distilled from wine.

“The change to a cereal base occurred as a result of a wine shortage in Holland, driven by the significant effects of the Little Ice Age on European viticulture, coupled with changes in the political
landscape.

“This is the first time that master distiller Charles Maxwell has distilled a gin using this method. Many new gins rely on an increased number of ingredients to present complexity and character, but our own approach is entirely different.

“We stripped away the need for prominent, unusual botanicals which has been the current trend. Instead, we went back to first principles, looked at the very heart of gin and sourced a grape neutral spirit which is altogether finer to work with.

“Whilst this presents a greater challenge to the master distiller, the result is a more refined, elegant style of gin with sophisticated, approachable, modern flavours.”

Calling it a “big, powerful, complex gin”, Charles added: “The neutral grape spirit base helps to give a soft mouth feel and bring forward floral notes as it combines with the citrus botanicals.

“Overall there is a gentle delivery of the botanical flavours which end up with a spicy peppery note delivered by the grains of paradise working with the juniper berries.”

It is recommended for serving with English sparkling wine to make a Fizz and in a Dry Martini and Collins as well as with tonic.

Available to both the on- and off-trade, the guide retail price for the 70cl bottles is £29. It comes in a stylish bottle with a silver diamond‐shaped label and natural cork stopper.


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