Adnams enters into the spirit

It is a company best known for producing great beers from the coast.

But now leading brewer Adnams has entered the spirit sector by launching a new distillery producing hand-crafted vodka, gin and whisky.

The Suffolk brewer yesterday officially launched its small-scale distillery at its Sole Bay Brewery in Southwold.

The new facility produces hand-crafted artisan vodka, gin and whisky and Adnams believes it is the first brewery in the UK to brew beer and distill spirits on the same premises.

The project has cost about �650,000 and the whole process will be undertaken in-house, from grain to glass.

The new distillery is based in the old Adnams brewery Copper House, which has been refurbished and installed with handmade copper distilling equipment made by Carl of Germany, a family company whose experience in manufacturing distilleries stretches back 135 years – just three years short of Adnams' own 138-year achievement.

Adnams chairman Jonathan Adnams OBE said: 'We have been brewing great beers in Southwold since 1872, and our business now incorporates five hotels, 70 pubs and ten Adnams Cellar & Kitchen stores. Hand-crafted spirits are the next exciting step in our journey and we are proud to add distilling to our expertise.

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'Small-scale distillation produces spirits of a quality and character that far surpass mass-produced products. The addition of a small distillery to breweries is not uncommon in mainland Europe, but I believe we are the first brewery in the UK to brew beer and distill spirits on the same premises.'

Mr Adnams said the company's latest venture came about after he noticed a resurgence of micro-distilleries in America.

He said: 'I had noticed over the last two or three years, certainly in the states, that there had started to be a bit of a resurgence of micro-distilleries.

'We in the UK have lost our micro-distillery heritage. It was wiped out because of legislation and taxation. We do not have that culture here although on the continent they do.

'I was seeing the emergence of a niche market in quality hand-crafted spirits. It is a small market, but it is a new section of the spirit market which is offering people something much better, better quality, better flavour, better choice which the global people do not offer.

'Most of the world's spirits come from huge ethanol factories. This is a real artisan technique.'

The initial launch involves two gins and two vodkas.

Adnams Distilled Gin and Adnams Barley Vodka (both 40pc alcohol by volume) are produced from 100pc East Anglian malted barley, with the gin being flavoured with juniper berries and five other 'botanicals'.

Adnams First Rate Gin and Adnams Longshore Premium Vodka (both 48pc abv) are made from a blend of local wheat, barley and rye, with a total of 13 different botanicals used to flavour the gin.

The range will grow further next month with the launch of Adnams North Cove Oak Aged Vodka (50pc abv), which is being matured in oak barrels in cellars below the distillery.

Work is about to start on the distillery's first whisky products although, due to the lengthy maturation process involved it will be three years before these are ready for sale.

The gin and vodka products are now on sale in Adnams' chain of Cellar & Kitchen stores and via its website, and will also be available to customers in its hotels and many of its pubs.

They will also be offered through the company's wider distribution chain to other hotels, restaurants and pubs.

In keeping with Adnams' green credentials, the equipment has been installed in a loop which also includes the company's cask washing facility so that warm water produced in the distilling process is recycled.

Waste from the distilling process will, like that from the brewery, will be processed in the recently launched anaerobic digestion plant at Adnams' distribution centre at Reydon to be converted into renewable gas to power the production of more beers and spirits.