Salcombe Gin School is a unique Gin making experience based in the seaside town of Salcombe, offering you the chance to take part in a new and exciting chapter of Salcombe Gin. Under the guidance of one of Salcombe Gin’s distillers, learn about the art of distillation and what it takes to produce a well-balanced and harmonious gin (that also tastes delicious!) After learning the in’s and out’s of gin-making, you can take charge and create your very own 70cl bottle of Gin to take home. We tried out the school and here’s what we thought…
Salcombe Gin School – A master in helping you make your very own gin
Salcombe Gin School: Our Experience
Having recently travelled from Brighton to stay in the beautiful South Sands Hotel in Salcombe, we decided we wanted to explore the area to find the hidden treasures of this gorgeous seaside town. It was then we came across the Salcombe Gin and their wonderful Gin making school.
Salcombe Gin are new players in the Gin market, (they launched in July 2016) but they have quickly taken the market by storm through the exceptional quality and determination to make a gin which not only tastes great but looks great through their luxury branding. Just recently they have been given the gold award in the internationally renowned World Drinks Awards as well as winning two awards for World’s Best Gin in the Technical Excellence and Premium Design subcategories this March.
The Gin School is the newest development to the flourishing brand, launching in March this year and becoming the first ever gin school in the Southwest of England. The school runs three days a week on a Wednesday (14:00-17:00), Friday (14:00-17:00) and Saturday which has two sessions of 09:30 – 12:30 or 14:00 – 17:00. They promise to offer the ultimate experience for both trade and consumer fans of this popular spirit.
We attended the Friday’s session at 14:00 where we were greeted by production manager Jason Nickels, who is in charge of the distilling process and shared his expertise throughout our time at the Salcombe Gin School. He took us through to the first room and revealed their newly installed state of the art, 450- litre copper still “provident” – The King or Queen of all distilleries. Here he explained the distilling process in front of the mechanical masterpiece and explains that this can produce up to 600 bottles of Salcombe’s finest gin per batch. After around an hour of learning and us intensely questioning Jason about the process, we were taken down the stairs to the building next door which was where the excitement of making our own gin came to life.
Walking into the room was like walking into a science lesson back at secondary school. 10-mini copper “provident’s” spread out along tall work stations joined together to make a U shape around the tutor. Our workstation consisted of a worksheet, measuring jug, mixing bowls, scales and a heater for the mini-still.
Having ordered a Gin and Tonic to accompany the session, Jason got us all together and explained the process of making our own gin. He explained that the mini-stills contain a neutral spirit which will blend together with the botanicals that we later on selected to make a unique gin for us to bottle up and take home. We were then informed that gin can contain anything from 4-47 botanicals and handed out a worksheet of over 100 botanicals for us to choose from.
We started to look through the lists of botanicals to decide the sort of Gin we would like to create. The worksheet included notes to guide us on the quantities needed and the must haves in gin – juniper berries are a must (around 25g per a 75cl bottle) Other ingredients are recommended depending on the blend that you are aiming for.
We aimed to create a unique and delicious gin that could be mixed nicely with a tonic; with this in mind we went over to the libary of ingredients which were kept in Jars situated in shelves to the side of the room and collected the ingredients which would be infused to make our gin. We started by adding the juniper berries followed by dried elderflower, cucumber, rose and vanilla. Jason came over to make sure that our mix was heading in the right direction and advised that we added a hint of chilli to enhance the after effect.
We tipped all of our ingredients into the still, placed the lid on top and heated at the heat setting number 4 for the distilling process to commence. This process can take around 30 minutes for the gin to slowly drip into your jug ready for the next step. Whilst this is taking place, you can place your finger under the drip tasting the flavours and how they change drastically throughout the process. This was also the perfect time for us to order another ‘Salcombe and tonic’ and see how the other participants distilling was going and see how different their creations were to ours.
Once the process was complete, we added pure water to cut the gin, reducing the strength from around 79 per cent to the recommended strength of 43 or 44 percent – Ours came in at exactly 43.9 percent when tested. We bottled the gin into a 70cl bottle (Leaving enough spare for them to mix our gin at the bar), attached the personalised label which we created and placed in their exclusive Gin school wooden presentation box.
So how did it taste? Is Mash gin (the name of our gin) going to go worldwide and awarded the best gin of 2017? Well I wouldn’t go that far but I must say I was rather impressed. The barman created me a gin and tonic which I was pleased to say I created. I enjoyed every sip and would I create it again? Definitely!
Make sure you visit Salcombe to make your very own Gin Now…
Salcombe Gin School
28 Island Street,