Meet The Maker - Atlantic Distillery

Tell us about yourself. How did you find yourself here today distilling gin?

Dave - I was the landlord of The Falcon Inn, St. Mawgan, from 2008 to 2016 and during that time I managed to convert the pub back to being a free house. This was when I found Stuart and Atlantic Brewery, as a very local supplier of good ale! In 2015 I decided I had got one more year left at the Falcon. Stuart had found this out and came into the pub and asked me “What do you fancy doing after you have done this?” I replied “nothing”. Stuart suggest we make some gin. “How do we do that” I replied, neither of us knew too much, so we spent the next 9 months looking at the whole gin process, playing around with recipes and looking at the market. Prior to being a landlord I was a gate keeper, ceramic repairer, fisherman, you name it.
Stuart - I have been an organic brewer for the last 15 years, still am, and for the first 5 or 6 years of that I was still employed in my previous job as a programmer / developer. Prior to that I ran this farmhouse as a guest house and before that I was a research scientist in oceanography!

What is the story behind the brand name?

Dave & Stuart – Well, Atlantic Distillery seemed a natural extension from Atlantic Brewery, with its established links in the trade and strong organic and ethical positioning, which is where we wanted the gin to be. ‘Atlantic’ comes from our identifying with our location. Initially, our gin range was called ‘Jynevra’ (the Cornish for gin), but we subsequently changed that to emphasise and strengthen the Atlantic branding, though we have kept Jynevra as the name of our flagship gin.

What makes this distillery stand out from the ever-growing crowd of gin producers?

Dave & Stuart – We all say it is the passion, that is a given, so that doesn’t make you stand out. We strongly believe in being organic and in the integrity and provenance of a product and the ingredients used in it. Using what we grow and growing what we can for the our gins is an important part of the process to us, which is why we have the soil association certification for our small-holding. We strive for the quality over profit. The organic ethos and footprint we have is the main thing that makes us stand out from the crowd and the product tastes fantastic because of that. The equipment also makes a difference. Using a bain-Marie still where there is no direct heat against the ingredients, this protects the botanicals and preserves the best of their characteristics. This and a slow distillation, it really shows through in the final product.

How did you come across your flagship recipe?

Stuart - We have two flagship gins really, effectively one each. Gorsedh is Dave’s and Jynevra is mine. We started out on the 5 litre still and tried to reproduce the two gins we had made at a course we took. There was a clear division in the profile of what we both liked. Rather than choose one, we developed both. They both have Cornish names and both contain an amount of gorse flower, which we associate with the Cornish land, it is iconic and that flavour comes through in both. One is more juniper forward with orange and bergamot and a bit of gorse, the other contains far more gorse flower with lemon and lime in support. And we are still happy with both, we like each other’s as well as our own. The sales for the first few months when we only had these two gins were 50/50 which justifies having decided not to drop one but have them both as a flagship.

What is your favourite product you have made to date?

Stuart – It’s the same for gin as with beer, it’s split - in the summer a hoppy pale ale but in winter it’s a dark chocolate stout. My go to gin & tonic is Jynevra, summertime it would be the Gooseberry & Elderflower but my winter gin would have to be the Smoked Green Tea, a fantastic flavourfest, very unusual, almost whisky like, straight or with ginger ale).
Dave - I love the Christmas gin (Pudding Gin), I really do love it, but I wouldn’t have it in the summer. So Pudding Gin is my winter gin and the summer gin has to be Gorsedh (I have to say that its my flagship!) that is my go to gin & tonic.

What was your original view for the distillery and how has that changed?

Dave & Stuart - I don’t think there has been a change from the original view. The distillery carries the same ethos as the brewery, it has to be organic and vegan. Ideally ingredients have to be grown by us, as much as is possible, and if not then from as close to the distillery as possible or from a good and traceable source. We believe in having a strong provenance in what we make and how we make it. That has been the main driving force for the distillery. We set out to make it a growing and sustainable business, providing an income for ourselves and potentially others. Still working on those points really – they both laugh. We have re-invested all profits into what we have needed to expand or take us on the next step, without owing anyone any money – we like to think of fit as an organically growing organic business.

Where do you see the distillery in 5 to 10 years?

Stuart & Dave – Still standing.
Stuart - Bigger and, for production, not here, as we do not have room. We are set to move in early 2020 which will let us expand, increase our capacity and production to meet the current demand without it being a firefight. It will allow us to talk to larger customers and take on projects which we have had to forego up to now. It will have a small shop and a tasting room “The Apothecary’s Antechamber” where we can host events.
 We will be developing the out of county market through the trade (and by mail-order retail with Drink Finder!). And we can now investigate the export enquiries we receive. A very exciting prospect is looking to work on interesting collaborations with like-minded businesses and suppliers. 
And in 10 years those juniper trees we planted when we started might even have produced a berry or two. Cornish Slow Gin - very rare.