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Who could have imagined a few years ago, before the gin renaissance swept the country, that it would be possible to have a category comprised of gins made solely in Cornwall. This eclectic and high-quality selection of juniper goodness has new gins added regularly, a testament to just how popular this spirit is. With no fewer than eleven distilleries making gin from a vast range of botanicals in Cornwall, it’s amazing they can all fit in such a small county! Here’s a quick guide to some of the distilleries making Cornish gin.
Southwestern Distillery is run by head distiller Tarquin Leadbetter, the man who produced the first Cornish gin in over a century at his family run distillery located between Newquay and Wadebridge. If you haven’t already guessed by his name, he makes the highly acclaimed Tarquin’s Cornish Gin, including the Tarquin’s Seadog Navy Strength which has won Best Gin at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017. For those not in the know, this competition is the drinks industry’s equivalent of an Oscar so that’s high praise indeed! He’s also added the excellent Tarquin’s Brilliant British Blackberry Gin to his core expressions listed above as well as releasing numerous highly popular limited edition runs of gin over the last few years.
Trevethan Distillery make Trevethan Cornish Gin and are only just eligible to be in this category as they are based just outside of Saltash so are only a stone through from the Tamar River that separates Cornwall and Devon. The gin is based on an old recipe from the 1920’s when the current owner’s grandfather, Norman Trevethan, used to make gin and other spirits using locally foraged ingredients as was the norm in small communities of that era. It is one of our most popular gins and is a bold, traditional offering. They have recently released two new expressions, Trevethan Honey Oak and Trevethan Chauffeur’s Reserve.
The Curio Spirits Company is run by husband and wife team Rubina and William Tyler-Street in an idyllic location on the Lizard Peninsula. Their initial offering, Curio Rock Samphire Gin, encapsulates the essence of the Cornish coast by using Rock Samphire as a botanical. This only grows in coastal regions and the gin is reminiscent of a stroll along one of Cornwall’s many coastal footpaths. They have also released Curio Fly Navy in collaboration with Navy Wings, an organisation that strives to keep old naval aircraft in the air. Very appropriate considering RNAS Culdrose is on their door step!
The Cornish Gin Distillery make Elemental Cornish Gin and are located just outside Newquay in St. Columb. The distillery is run by Jon and Jilly with the help of their two oldest children. Using pure Cornish spring water to cut the gin, the production is a real labour of love with 12 botanicals used to distil this traditional gin. The name Elemental was chosen to reflect the ancient alchemical process that occurs distillation.
The Wrecking Coast Distillery is based in Tintagel, legendary home to none other than King Arthur and his knights. The distillery takes its name from the moniker attached to that particular stretch of coastline. They use the most Cornish ingredient possible in the distillation of their bold, smooth gin; clotted cream! Production started from a desire to make a gin that they would enjoy and would be proud to share with friends and that dream has taken them a long way.
Pocketful of Stones Distillery are dedicated to both the natural environment and to using fresh, local ingredients in the production of their Caspyn gin. You can certainly taste the difference this makes, especially in their Cucumber gin which is the freshest we’ve tasted. They donate a portion of every sale to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, not bad considering the idea for the distillery was born in a pub cellar in London.
Colwith Farm Distillery make Staffords Gin and they are a fully operational potato farm based near Fowey. Run by father and son team Mike and Chris, their family have been farming that land for five generations. They started growing potatoes during World War 2 to help feed the nation and have never looked back. It’s these very potatoes that are used to create the base spirit for distillation. They also make Aval Dor Vokda and the new Fowey River Apple Cider Gin in collaboration Haye Farm which is Cornwall’s oldest cider farm.
Westward Farm is located on St. Agnes on the Isles of Scilly and has been run by the same family for centuries. Currently at the helm of this venture is Aiden and Grace Hicks, a couple that are now making four gins; Westward Farm Scilly Gin, Westward Farm Rose Geranium Gin, Westward Farm Wild Wingletang Gin and Westward Farm Rose Geranium Gin. They started off making beauty products but soon found themselves using their knowledge of extracting essential oils to distil gin, a process that is very similar funnily enough. These are truly small batch gins that have proved to be very popular.
Saint Ives Liquor Company is run by the Thompson brothers, three siblings from Zennor who hatched a plan around the family dining table to create Cornwall’s first cold compound gin. That nucleus has grown into St. Ives Gin, a fresh and vibrant offering that offers something different in a very competitive market. These are the new kids on the block and we think they’re going to go far.