Proprietors and Distillers at Dartmoor Spirit Craft Distillery Adam and Shelly Smith tell us how they got started and the inspiration behind their product...
"Our step into the world of distilling was quite unplanned really, we had always enjoyed making homemade wine and beer plus the yearly event of picking sloe berries to make some sloe gin for Christmas. Then about 2 years ago on one of our family walks on Dartmoor we came up with the idea of surely we could use other berries, blossom and other natural ingredients to make gin that had a truly distinctive flavour and reflected the combinations of the ingredients we put into it.
The idea as now turned into a huge ‘gin’ adventure for us and now two years down the line after truly exhaustive peperwork and regulationary assessment by Her Majestys Revenue and Customs and many decisions on distilling processes and trialing our recipes and blends, not forgetting putting together a brand image, bottle selection, and label design, our little gin has finally begun it’s journey.
We distil our gin spirit in very small batches - no more than 50 bottles per batch. This gives us the control to produce a gin that goes that extra mile in quality flavour, creativity - and just pure effort and care. The seasons, and their associated wild ingredients are our inspiration and we knew we would face regular challenges with a seasonal recipe from the point of view that we would not be sticking to a rigid gin recipe that was replicated and bottled by the 100’s of litres. With each seasons newly emerging berries and blossom we create new recipes and flavour combinations that reflect the season and offer a distinctive flavour experience that would be revered and enjoyed by any true gin lover.
We are just a husband and wife team, with the foraging help of our 6 year old son! We live on the edge of Dartmoor and for many years have walked and explored the forests and tors. It is a spectular place and much loved by Devonians and tourists alike, and it is the inspiration behind the gin we make today. It was the obvious choice to combine our gin identity with the unique seasonal offerings that Dartmoor provides. (It is important to note that it is not legal to forage on Dartmoor for commercial purposes. We are fortunate to have friends with their own land on the moor where we can source our ingredients from their hedgerows, woodland and stream.)
Our first gin is ‘Ten Tor Seasonal Gin’ - Ten; for our base ten traditional gin botanicals and Tor; for the distinctive granite outcrops on dartmoor, a place as unique as our gin.
We believe that nature has many exciting berries, plants and blossom combinations still waiting to be discovered. That’s why we embarked on a mission to match traditional gin botanicals with wild, local, seasonal ingredients to create a refined and elegant gin that will alwys be unlike any other.
We always like to do things a bit differently and one of the main differences is how we distill our gin botanicals. Rather than soaking and stewing our precious botanicals in spirit - which is how the vast majority of gin producer’s prepare for distillation, we undertake a more delicate and reverent process known as ‘vapour infusion’.
This superlative method holds all of our gin botanicals in a fine mesh gin basket within the Still, as the heated spirit vapours rise the unique flavours of our botanicals are gently released and join together in a tantalising vapour infusion which then pasess through our copper condenser. The resulting captured gin spirit is then carefully blended with pure Dartmoor spring water to a create a premium quality London Dry gin of 42%vol. Bombay Sapphire gin is another producer that follows this same method.
We have had a truly remarkable response to our first steps into the gin world, we’ve made great new friends and visited some amazing places and events. Almost all of our purchasers and tasters have become aware that our Ten Tor Seasonal Gin is exceptionally smooth and can be enjoyed neat, enabling a full taste experience of all it’s hand picked goodies - something we were always aware of and strived to keep ‘captured’ within our gin flavours.
Best ‘Serves’ change with the seasonal change of our gin - Summer enjoyed the company of fresh thyme, slice of lime and Fever Tree Mediterreanean tonic whilst our Autumn blend combines beautifully with a simple Fever Tree ‘plain’ Indian tonic and a slice of fresh orange.
For a full list of places where you can enjoy by the glass or buy a bottle - please visit our website www.dartmoorspirit.com
New gin and spirits are being planned for 2018.