Interview – English Spirit Distillery

What is your chocolate product? 

Our Chocolate Chilli Vodka Liqueur is our main chocolate product at the moment: although this year we have also made up limited edition batches of Chocolate Rose vodka liqueur (liquid Turkish Delight), Chocolate Mint vodka liqueur (liquid After Eight) and Chocolate Orange vodka liqueur (liquid Terry’s Choc Orange). We’ve also made Cocoa Gin for Hotel Chocolat, and a Chocolate Spiced Rum for another of our clients.

What got you interested in chocolate? 

It’s an amazing flavour loved by all – but there aren’t really many good liquid versions available. So it was our mission to make a fantastic chocolate alcohol – using the powers of alcohol and chemistry to extract different flavours that you wouldn’t usually get when eating it by the bar! 

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When did you first make chocolate liqueur? 

About six years ago we released our first chocolate vodka liqueur, “Chodka” – which was lovely and we ran a few batches of – but we have since moved on to a different recipe!

How was your first attempt at making chocolate? 

Making Chodka was OK as even by then we’d had plenty of experience with distilling the vodka ourselves from sugar beet (we never import any of our alcohol base spirits from elsewhere, like the vast majority of other vodka producers in the UK). However, we did attempt to make a chocolate cream vodka liqueur…the chocolate was very nice but we couldn’t stop the cream from separating in the bottle, so we’ve parked that one for now.

How and from where do you source your ingredients? 

We produce the key ingredient – the vodka – ourselves: distilled from scratch from East Anglian sugar beet, which gives the vodka smoothness, a nice mouthfeel, and an undertone of cream soda. Then we select cocoa flavourings that match the vodka perfectly; add a small amount of chilli into the still for some nice warmth to wrap up the flavour: and bolster the whole taste experience with a touch of English sugar.

Anything you are particularly proud of about your products? 

We’ve never entered our Chocolate Chilli Vodka Liqueur in for an award before: but we’re fairly sure it’s the only chocolate flavoured alcoholic product in the UK to be produced with the distillery’s own alcohol, as opposed to imported from somewhere else. So we’re proud that this is truly artisan!

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What’s your best-selling product? 

Our best selling liqueur has traditionally been our Old Fashioned English Toffee Vodka liqueur – but the Chocolate Chilli Vodka Liqueur is not far behind in popularity! We’re making a name for ourselves across the country with both.

What achievement are you most proud of? 

We’re proud of quite a few things: being one of the first small batch distilleries to open in the UK; the first distillery to make rum here in the UK; our master distiller having arguably more varied distilling experience than anyone else in the UK; having worked with nearly 100 brands to create bespoke craft alcoholic products for them; but possibly most importantly, distilling all of our alcohol from scratch (and not importing base spirit): an extreme rarity in the UK, but truly artisan and well worth the effort.

What are your ambitions for the future? 

We’re opening a distillery (and visitor centre) at Treguddick Manor in Cornwall in Spring 2020, which will run alongside our current distillery at Great Yeldham Hall in Essex. Ultimately our founder and Master Distiller Dr John Walters wants to open a chain of visitor centres, shops and distillery kitchens around the country (to celebrate the best of England) within the next 10 years. We want to show people what real artisan spirits have to offer as an entirely new form of flavour cuisine.

What’s your mission statement? 

To make the best spirits money can buy: at a price people can afford.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate? 

At the distillery we all love chocolate – we eat it and drink quite a lot of it! We would probably favour milk chocolate, especially for our own product, as the creamy taste lends itself well to the sugar beet base spirit, as well as the nice mouthfeel and sweetness also provided by the sugar. Good dark chocolate is also gorgeous but we haven’t gotten around to making a batch of something with that in yet!

What other products do you do? 

Vodkas, gins, rums, brandies, sambuca, single malts, things that only we have invented like a Cucumber Spirit, eau de vies, and plenty of liqueurs – all distilled entirely from scratch to a quality standard not found anywhere else. (We believe our distillery produces the world’s widest variety of spirits and liqueurs distilled under one roof!

Where are you based? 

We started at The Old Salt Depot in Cambridgeshire, have been based at Great Yeldham Hall in Essex for the last 4 years, and have been based at Treguddick Manor in Cornwall for the last 2 years (where we are opening our second distillery, visitor centre, shop, kitchen and botanical garden in Spring 2020).

 

English Spirit Distillery will be at the Exeter Chocolate Festival, but if you can’t wait until then to get your hands on their products you can buy them on their website by clicking here.

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