G&T enthusiasts can now discover the botanical secrets behind the creation of small batch artisanal gin with the launch of Distillery Tours by a Ringwood producer who is passionate about his brand.
Inspired by a trip to Scotland’s famous Oban Distillery, Mark and Kay Williams created New Forest Spirits in 2018.
With a master’s degree in chemistry and 30 years working in the food and beverage industry, Mark has combined his scientific knowledge with his ability to balance flavors to produce what he claims to be the “perfect product”.
Visitors to the Forest Corner Farm Distillery in Hangersley will be guided through the production process, which uses a blend of fine grain alcohol, New Forest spring water and specially selected plants to create this style of gin. classic and beautifully smooth.
Portuguese copper stills are used for the distillation process, and although Mark cannot turn on the device for health and safety reasons, they are a majestic sight to behold.
“The tour will begin with a gin and tonic, or takeout for the designated driver, and after a walk through the art of artisanal distillation, there will be a tasting session,” said Mark.
Wyrd’s offering includes a classic dry gin – which he describes as having “fragrant notes of juniper mixed with refreshing citrus, warm earthy notes and a spicy peppery finish” – a damson gin and a range of aged gins. barrel, barrel aged in moscatel, sherry or bourbon barrels for up to 18 months.
The base aromas come from juniper berries and coriander seeds, with earthy notes provided by angelica and licorice roots. The refreshing citrus flavors are provided by sweet orange, lemon and grapefruit peels, and the berries of cardamom, cassia and cubeb give the spicy finish.
Mark has won several awards for his gins, including bronze and silver at the World Gin Awards, a bronze medal in the International Wine and Spirits Competition, and a two-star distinction at the Great Taste Awards.
“What attracted me to starting my own distillery was the mix of science and art,” said Mark, whose early career was spent analyzing flavors for brewing. Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association. “I wanted to be part of something more creative and intimate, and it gives me great pleasure to work in a local business community where everyone helps each other.
“We are very keen to partner with other companies to see how we can start incorporating more local products like fruit. We already use blackberries, damsons, crab apples and medlars, and have even experimented with local honey.
Mark spent over a year testing and testing his gin before he was finally happy with it. “This job requires an excellent nose and finely tuned taste buds to ensure the end product is smooth, well balanced and, most importantly, delicious,” he said.
Jo Rich, who manages the marketing side of the operation, said the distillation was truly a labor of love for Mark.
“Having seen huge distilleries where spirits are monitored by machines, what Mark does is really a profession,” she said.
“Each bottle bears Mark’s signature – that’s the very definition of handcrafted from start to finish.”
Mark’s gins are stocked at most independent wine and spirits retailers in the area, including Solent Cellar in Lymington, Page’s of Lyndhurst and New Forest Wines in Ringwood.
New Forest Hotels also uses Wyrd, and it has been sold at various shows and events in the area, including the New Forest Show and Dogstival.
“We found the last year very difficult because we weren’t able to promote ourselves at the various events in the region,” said Mark. “But we launched a hand sanitizer, and sales of that sanitizer got us through it – now we’re hoping for a good year ahead!”
Mark, who won a scholarship from the Worshipful Company of Distillers, plans to expand his range and is even considering partnering with local winemakers.
The 90-minute gin discovery tours will launch on June 10 and run on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Tickets are priced at £ 15 and also include a branded gin glass.
For more information or to book a ticket, visit wyrdspirits.com