A bold new distillery, a bold new venture from the Yorkshire Dales- with not a flap cap in sight !

 

Now I know what your thinking, thegrapewizard has now written a few articles on topics other than just grapes recently. So please let me reassure you: the grape is still my main passion and over the next few months I’ve a couple of fantastic interviews with your favourite big names, interesting small producers and distillers.   But before all that another topic I am passionate about is gin.  

We have all witnessed the recent meteoric rise of gin.  In 2009 Sipsmith (amongst others) began lobbying the government to challenge a law that required massive-sized stills for making ginand forbade small batch distilling. In March of 2009, after 18 months of negotiations, London’s first copper pot distillery in over 200 years was finally permitted to open. If it had not been for this bold step, many start-ups would not have ever had the chance to follow.  The Yorkshire Dales Distillery is one such company. 

The high, breathtaking views, swooping twists, hills and bends, and picture-postcard villages of the Dales evoke an era of a sleepy rural idyll, straight out of All Creatures Great and Small.  It is somehow quite surprising therefore to discover that an ultra modern business has sprung up in traditional England.  Tony and Sarah Brotherton’s business is situated just outside the historic market town of Richmond.  It is a family affair and their desire to both work and play in the industry has seen their small craft Distillery flourish.   Indeed Tony’s Grandparents were the original G&T fans that first inspired their passion for handcrafted homegrown quality.  Tony’s career in the British Army has also inspired the business to give back into the community by providing opportunities to train veterans, ex offenders, young people and the long term unemployed. 

In their pursuit of technical excellence in distillation, they produce London dry gins and vodka in very small batches using traditional techniques resulting in exceptionally smooth and unique flavours. Many of their botanicals are sourced locally: the Dales honey is sourced just a mile away from the distillery and then there is the unique and ancient water source from Swaledale.  Every bottle is hand bottled, labelled and signed and they also offer a bespoke distilling service for a number of private clients and businesses. 

Award winning

Recently the Yorkshire Dales Distillery won the Local Product of the Year 2018 category in the Flavours of Herriot Country Awards.  The judges described their products as “epic!!!”

Purple Ram London Dry Gin

Smooth and quadruple distilled and 100% vapour infused through select Yorkshire botanicals including artisan local honey.  Great served with Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water

On the nose; sweet spicy orange and cardamom with a delicate juniper finish. 

On the palette; clean cinnamon, orange and grapefruit. Delicate use of honeysuckle

Finish: A balanced Juniper finish with sweet nuts

Desert Ram Army Strength London Dry Gin

Made smooth and strong through quadruple distillation and 100% vapour infused with North African and Middle Eastern inspired botanicals.  Sit back into that comfy chair and imagine great times gone by. 

On the nose; Juniper and warm citrus, sweet peppermint and elegant pine characters

On the palette; Orange peel and cardamom. Wood and aromatic floral notes with candied rhubarb

Finish: Juniper and strawberry, with a hint of clove

Smokey Ram Yorkshire Vodka

Exceptionally smooth quadruple distilled vodka, 100% vapour infused through Yorkshire hay smoked peppercorns. Light and smokey with a gentle peppery feel.

On the nose; Rye flavours with a strong grassy note, pepper and light spice mixed with a touch of icing sugar

On the palette; Delicate evidence of white pepper and aniseed

Finish: Calm and delicate, evidence of a grain flavour

Wild Ram Yorkshire Berry London Dry Gin 

Use of Yorkshire berries and heather flowers give this quadruple distilled and 100% vapour infused a smooth, strong and warm character. Great served with Fever Tree Aromatic tonic.

On the nose; Red fruit and juniper with fragrant citrus 

On the palette; redcurrant, blackcurrant and plum juniper and a touch of pine. 

Finish: a sharp redcurrant morphs into strawberry cheesecake. Yum Yum!

Intrepid Ram Yorkshire Golden Rum 

The Caribbean meets the Yorkshire Dales!  Oak-aged in the Distillery and delicately infused with Yorkshire honey and heather. The demerara and chocolate finish is perfect for a Dark and Stormy cocktail.

On the nose: Bold oak and vanilla

On the palette: demerara and spice with a velvet chocolate finish

And now for the GW geeky stuff

Gin is an old spirit, dating back 600 years the trend today is for flavoursome botanical gins rather than the early juniper-led gins. 

Did you know that there are 3 types methods used to make gin 

Distilled gins

One shot distillation is the most traditional method and is preferred by craft distillers

Here a one shot producer distils either fermented sugar or a neutral spirit together with the juniper and the botanicals. Just the right amount of botanicals is steeped in the liquid like tea. Their essence is extracted by suspending the botanicals in a basket and exposed to the steam. Then just before the bottling the distiller adds water to cut the spirit to the proper proof 

This method requires more stills to produce even a fraction of what other Distilleries make but produces a better mouth feel and by exposing the liquid to the copper keeps unwanted sulphur compounds and acids out of the process 

Concentrate 

Distillers can stretch their gin.   Here the process produces bigger quantities by distilling a huge quantity of botanicals with just a small amount of liquid. The end result is a highly concentrated distillate to which the producer adds neutral spirits and water. 

Cold Compound 

This method is the simplest method where any sort of real or artificial botanical is added to a neutral spirit provided juniper is already present. 

So it seems the Yorkshire Dales, renowned for more traditional aspects of life; the Flat cap, the Yorkshire puddings and a qwerky sense of dialect is also a place where new things are being born.  In my opinion The Yorkshire Dales Distillery is one to watch.  It is embryonic but it is also a breakthrough cottage industry company.  Since 2009 and the change in law the small producer has flourished: there are now over 500 gin producers- so standing out is the key. The Yorkshire Dales Distillery has a unique provenance and uses alternative ingredients. 

If you have want to know more or have any questions regarding this or any other of question please feel free to contact me at Jason@thegrapewizard.com or my website thegrapewizard.com or anywhere on social media where you see thegrapewizard.

Interview to come…. Watch this space!

Please sign up to my newsletter on thegrapewizard.com

http://www.yorkshiredalesdistillery.com

Eimverk Distillery Iceland

Eimverk Distillery Iceland

It’s the holidays and a short break is needed. Unfortunately I’ve chosen the wrong place to look for grapes as I am off to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. This is a breathtaking land of ice and fire: long winters, frozen lakes, spouting hot springs called geysers and big woolly jumpers which dot the otherworldly, volcanic landscape now familiar to all Game of Thrones fans.
 Around three-quarters of the island is barren of vegetation; plant life consists mainly of grassland, which is regularly grazed by sheep (sheep out number Icelanders almost 3 to 1).

Typical view of icelandic landscape

Fabulous vistas

Iceland’s national spirit is Brennivín. Its potency has earned it the nickname ‘black death’. It is a type of schnapps distilled from potato mash and caraway seeds and well known for washing down the taste of the putrefied-shark dish, hákarl. This spirit is only brewed in Iceland and only in one distillery!
 Imagine then my relief when I read that Iceland also has a booming craft distillery culture!!

img_0740

The Icelandic climate has only twice in recorded history allowed for decent amounts of grain – first during settlement times, and now, due to global warming. The early settlers grew and brewed barley into mead and ale, and after barley production died down, schnapps or potato vodka became the drinks of choice for Icelanders. Now, with barley production growing again, that equation has changed.
 I contacted Eimverk Distillery ahead of time and they invited me to visit on one of their afternoon distillery tours.

Arriving at the small distillery in an industrial estate on the outskirts of Reykjavik, I was greeted by CEO Halli Thorkelsson, an extremely personable, dry-witted, entrepreneur with a huge passion for his family run distillery.

img_0377

The distillery has already received critical acclaim for their gin named Vor, which got a Double Gold Award at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

img_0747

But we’re not here to just to just praise their gin, we’re here to taste their whisky as well, which is the first of its kind to be made in Iceland.
 What a pioneering spirit they have!
 Halli and his brother Egill wanted to see if they could make their own whisky, just for the fun of it. So they started to experiment with a small still and after more than 160 different recipes, learning the ropes along the way, they found one in 2009 that their friend’s and family’s feedback was worth pursuing.

Everything , since then, has sprung from there.

THE GEEKY STUFF

unknown

Eimverk gets most of their grain straight from the family farm. It’s 100% organic being exposed to nothing but the harsh Icelandic winter. With a shorter growing season, the barley with its low starch and sugar content, concentrates the flavours. The second ingredient, water, is a commodity that Iceland has in abundance and is so pure has no need to be treated – it comes straight from the tap!

Native botanicals


 Halli goes on to explain the inspiration behind their range of gins “Again we wanted to stay true to our heritage and only use native Icelandic ingredients. Vor, their small batch, barley-based, pot-distilled gin contains nine botanicals, wild picked Icelandic juniper, crowberries, birch leaves, thyme, Icelandic sea kelp and organically grown rhubarb and kale.

 

 

One variant is barrel-aged in first-fill virgin white oak barrels to give the gin a slightly woody, smokey character.

The surprise tipple of the day was their very pleasant `aquavit – Viti –

img_0741 dominated by caraway seeds and dill perfect as a digestif and awarded a Double Gold at the San Fransisco World Spirits competition.
 Pall, the charismatic, smooth-talking Sales and Marketing Manager took us through a wonderfully entertaining and informative tasting and tour.

img_0387

You get a real sense that the bold, pioneering, yet down to earth nature of Iceland is alive and kicking here at Eimverk. It’s still very early days for this young distillery so it would not be fair of me to compare its products to the more established distillers yet I do believe given time, these super-cool, passionate and friendly mavericks will mature into one of the Iceland’s main attractions.

Whisky

 

Their Young malt is called Flóki, Rating (4/5*) named after the first settler in Iceland and has a toasty, buttery oak aroma and tastes of oak leather and brown bready maltiness with hints of caramel shortcake honey and vanilla.

Their most unusual take on whisky however comes in the form of their “Sheep Dung” Whisky. “We wanted to make a whisky to emulate the peaty flavours of Single Malt but in Iceland we do not have any peat” said Halli “ The water in the ground is almost permanently frozen so it cannot form. The early settlers used to burn sheep dung to generate warmth. This sh*t is really good sh*t!!” He says with a smile. The barley is smoked over the burning dung to give it sweet almost green smokey notes which compliment the intensity of the barley. You may even find vanilla and white pepper.

Three farms Bjamholt Farm Eimverk family farm where they smoke their sheep dung for the smoked barley reserve  , Porvaldseyri Farm and Sandholl Farm

 

img_0715

FLÓKI – ICELANDIC SINGLE MALT WHISKY. Rating (4/5*)The distillery , for the first time in Iceland , has a 3 year old Single Malt. Their Single Grain Icelandic Whisky was released in a limited bottling in November 2017. Carefully distilled and made from 100% Icelandic barley and matured on ex-Young Malt barrels which have been mellowed by the maturation of our Young Malt.

img_0716

3 year old Single Malt,Rating (4/5*) Single Grain Icelandic Whisky will be released in a limited bottling of our very first 3 year old casks in November 2017.

Carefully distilled and made from 100% Icelandic barley and matured on ex-Young Malt barrels which have been mellowed by the maturation of our Young Malt.

Gin

 

 

VOR – SMALL BATCH
 (L) Rating (5/5*) Vor, Icelandic for spring is a premium pot distilled gin from a 100% Icelandic barley base.

In a delicate third distillation native botanicals are added to perfect an authentic taste of Icelandic summer.  Juniper Berries, Rhubarb, Crowberries, Angelica Root, Birch Leaves, Creeping Thyme, Iceland Moss, Kale and Sweet Kelp 100% are all grown locally and complement each other to produce a fresh and vibrant gin

Vor is a New Western style Gin with heavy botanical notes that compliment the sharp notes of juniper and the sweetness from our barley base.

VOR GIN – BARREL AGED RESERVE
 (M) Rating (4/5*) A special reserve edition of Vor Small batch gin which has been aged on new wood american oak barrel for a sweet and smoky gin with intense botanical notes.

This is truly a whisky drinkers gin as it is made from a new whisky base which is then re-distilled with our selected native botanicals’ and oak rested for a period of 2 months.

Perfect for sipping neat on the rocks, for martini’s or for an intense gin and tonic.

VOR GIN – SLOE STYLE RESERVE
 (R) Rating (4/5*) Following the tradition of Sloe Gin making in UK we have developed an Icelandic variation by using the available native berries. mixing blueberry and crowberry juice for a sweet and subtle sloe style gin. Perfect for sipping neat or in various cocktails.

 

Viti Brennivin

 

img_0740

VÍTI – ICELANDIC PREMIUM AQUAVITE
 Aquavite Rating (5/5*) also called Brennivín in Iceland has a dominant flavour of caraway seeds and is the traditional spirit of Iceland.

img_0741

Víti is triple pot distilled using a small batch distilling unit. This method gives a truly unique spirit base from the Icelandic barley and allows all essential oils from the native botanicals to be carefully preserved during the distilling process.

Visit Aquavite for more info on Víti Brennivín.

 

 

 

So the tasting with Pall went through 3 whiskeys and 3 gins as well as the aquavit. I wasn’t quite expecting the sheep dung to taste as it did- slightly reminiscent of soil and not at all smokey. Probably a lesson that I learn from wine tasting is never believe what you’ve learnt or what your heart says – taste and assess.   The sheep dung whiskey was smooth with a gentle earthiness. This was a great addition to the distillery. The three year old (a first for 🇮🇸) was smooth also.

 

 

 

So as you can see from the photos that were taken over a four-day period Iceland is something else. You have all of natures wonders at your doorstep. Only 3 hours from London , probably 5 from New York and all set in spectacular scenery. Not many places encapsulate all that Iceland has to offer  – rugged landscape, world-class restaurants , cultured, cool and trendy and welcoming people. Surely a bucket list country.

 And don’t forget the Northern Lights!!! 

Music Pairing for Eimverk Distillery – Enjoy sitting in a club chair, a favourite glass and fill with Folk or Vor – relax and press play !

TGW

 

If you want to recieve articles when i post them please follow  by subscribing

alternatively drop me an email at thegrapewizard

Any questions about Wines and spirits  just contact me !