Walter, Valentine and Chris
Their story began on the hills of Hepple, in Northumberland – one of Britain’s last wild sanctuaries for juniper.
Celebrated foraging chef Valentine Warner brought legendary bartender Nick Strangeway and distillery developer Cairbry Hill up to Hepple – in the remote Northumbrian National Park – to meet Walter Riddell, owner of the Hepple estate in March 2013. A bone-chilling wind was blowing from the east.
Their original plan was to make something esoteric, but out on the moor the wind hounded them to take refuge amongst a stand of ancient junipers, glittering with green and purple berries. As they huddled amongst the shaking juniper, bejewelled with berries, it became clear that something core to gin had never been fully revealed – juniper, the true essence of gin.
To capture the true taste of juniper, they had to rethink every stage of the gin-making process. They knew that while conventional distillation is magnificent at smoothing and cleaning the spirit, it can destroy delicate flavours because it occurs at 80 degrees, when long chain molecules degrade – or to put it simply, cook. This required them to go beyond conventional distillation into the realms of vacuum distillation, supercritical extraction, ultrasonics and other high-precision flavour techniques.
A tremendous stroke of luck happened in the autumn of 2014: Chris Garden, the super-star distiller of spirits stars Sipsmith moved North to Newcastle to where his wife’s family lived.
Together, they embarked on a journey of gin and in October 2015 Hepple Gin was born.
It takes five times longer to make Hepple Gin than a conventional gin, it has won a raft of acclaim from the Olympians of the spirits world, a double gold at San Francisco in 2017, a five plus star review from Diffords, and is the growing choice of gin in a martini and other cocktails from London to New York, Hamburg to Singapore.