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How Shakespeare Distillery creates spirits using Tudor ingredients

March 24, 2022 by Joel Davidge

Established in 2015. Shakespeare Distillery is an artisan spirit producer based in Stratford upon Avon, in Warwickshire.

Named after the world famous playwright who lived in the town, their premium handcrafted gins and rums have won multiple awards, including a “Silver Outstanding” medal at the 2017 International Wine and Spirits Competition.

In 2019, the distillery opened a visitor centre, which offers tours, gin schools, and cocktail masterclasses. The centre was awarded Gold in the New Tourism Business category at the 2020 West Midlands Tourism Awards and has received a 2021 Traveller’s Choice Award by Tripadvisor.

We spoke to Jen Pyatt, Sales and Marketing Executive at the distillery, about creating gins using traditional Tudor ingredients.

Hi Jen, tell us a little about Shakespeare Distillery and the team?

Situated in the heart of Shakespeare’s County, we are an artisan spirit producer, established in 2015.  Everything we produce is in small handcrafted batches. Our gin is inspired by Tudor botanicals but created using modern techniques.

Last year we also launched Jester Rum, one of the few truly British rums made from scratch here at the distillery.

In 2019 we opened our doors as a visitor centre and we now offer a suite of popular experiences including Tours, Gin Schools, Gin Tasting Cruises and Cocktail Masterclasses.

Our visitor centre was awarded Gold in the New Tourism Business category at the 2020 West Midlands Tourism Awards and has received a 2021 Traveller’s Choice Award by Tripadvisor.

At the heart of everything we do is our small close-knit team, recognised by our visitors as knowledgeable and incredibly passionate about all we do.

What first got you interested in distilling?

Founder and Head Distiller, Simon, has always loved gin and he spent two years creating Stratford Dry Gin from his own small copper still at home.

Inspired by his Warwickshire location and his love of history, Shakespeare Distillery was born with the aim of using traditional Tudor period ingredients that would have been familiar to Shakespeare and giving them a fresh twist to create modern new spirits.

Stratford-Upon-Avon is of course well known for the famous playwright. What’s it like working in the town?

We’re very proud to live and work in this historical town, producing a range of products authentic and true to the area. In addition to our distillery (located 2 miles outside the town centre) we also have a High Street shop in the centre of town which was once the home to Shakespeare’s daughter, Judith!

Stratford upon Avon is a bustling tourist destination full of heritage and culture, and home to many small businesses like us who mutually support one another.

Many of your products feature quintessentially English flavours like Mulberry and Elderflower – tell us a little about your distilling process and how these flavours came about?

To make our gin we use authentic Tudor garden botanicals including rose, lemon balm, sage, rosemary and old English lovage fused with the more familiar juniper, coriander and lemon peel.

With Stratford Gin we employ the ‘London Dry’ method of production, nothing can be added to the Gin other than the flavours imparted during distillation.

For an added challenge and to ensure we really can say that we have created a handcrafted product we do this using the single shot method, meaning all the ingredients required to make one batch of gin are added in at the same time. We don’t make a concentrate and blend this down to get the flavour we want.

Our fruit gins and liqueurs are made using 100% real fruit. Using Stratford Dry as the base, we blend this with the fruit juice or, as with our Mulberry Gin Liqueur, we leave the mulberries to steep in our Stratford Dry for several weeks.

Elderflower & Quince Gin

Elderflower and Quince Gin from Shakespeare Distillery

Elderflower is a quintessentially British flavour and quinces (a cross between a pear and an apple) were highly prized in the Tudor period.

We therefore blend our award-winning Stratford Dry Gin with these two flavours. Subtle apple notes from the quince fuse with the mild sweetness of elderflower to create a deliciously fruity, full-strength gin.

Mulberry Gin Liqueur

Our Mulberry Gin Liqueur was inspired by the mulberry trees Shakespeare planted in his garden at New Place.

A rare fruit liqueur, Mulberry Gin is made by combining mulberries with Stratford Dry Gin and leaving them to steep for several months to create a deeply rich, fruity and slightly sweet gin.

One of your featured gins is Elderflower and Quince – is that a reference to the Midsummer Night’s Dream character?

No, it’s not a reference to the character. This is purely just down to the name of the fruit! As advised above, this gin was inspired by the fact that quinces were highly prized in the Tudor period.

However in a nod to Shakespeare’s characters, we have named our two stills ‘Portia’ and ‘Ophelia’, and our large rum fermenter is called ‘Titania’!

What advice would you give to new distillers looking to launch their own products?

Make something you truly love to drink yourself!

 

To find out more about Shakespeare Distillery’s range of spirits, and visitor experiences go to Shakespearedistillery.com.

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