Ramsbury Brewing & Distilling is a true “grain to glass” operation, lovingly run from a sprawling 19,000-acre estate in Wessex Downs. Boasting premium beers, and single estate vodka and gin (as well as estate beef, fish, game, honey, jams and rapeseed oil), it prides traceability, sustainability and craftsmanship above all things. We take a look at Ramsbury Single Estate Gin and its journey from field to cocktail.
The word “sustainable” is one that gets bandied around by Marketeers a lot and, as such, is something we need to be wary of. Therefore, it’s quite nice when a brand lays out the ways in which it is striving towards eco-bliss and zero impact, instead of just stamping a word on a bottle and hoping no one questions its legitimacy.
Beer before Gin for the Win
The Ramsbury Brewery was set up in 2004 with the single aim of turning great quality, estate-grown wheat and barley into a range of premium beers. Soon after it opened, the idea was born to start making spirits, however it wasn’t until 2015 that this dream became a concrete reality.
The Ramsbury Ethos
If you manage and farm a 19,000-acre estate, some 2,500-acres of which is woodland and forest, you’re going to know a thing or two about land. At Ramsbury, they are farmers first, with a deep-rooted understanding that the more they care for the landscape around them, the more it will give them. This means they know how to manage the chalk-rich soil and the precise day to harvest their Horatio wheat for the best results. The Ramsbury philosophy is:
“Grow everything, waste nothing and aspire to leave no negative impact on the environment. We call it a ‘completely integrated estate’ […] our ambition when it comes to sustainability and quality knows no bounds.”
With this in mind, the team grows, harvests and processes all its own grain and plan each step of the distillation process through to ensure it is part of a natural cycle with no waste.
How is Ramsbury Gin made?
Horatio wheat (a traditional baker’s wheat) is harvested from the Wiltshire fields and stored next to the distillery until it is ready for use. It is then milled into a rough flour and placed into Ramsbury’s mash tuns along with yeast and warm water from the aquifer below the land. This is left to ferment for three to five days. Spent grain is then fed to the cows and pigs, whilst all waste water (no chemicals added) is filtered through a sustainable reed bed system, providing a fantastic habitat for a diverse range of wildlife.
The mash is distilled to produce low-wines of around 76% ABV. These are diluted to 35% ABV and heated in a pot still. Distilling then takes place through an enormous 43-plate copper column still, reaching an ABV of 96.5%. Botanicals of juniper, orris root, cinnamon, liquorice, orange peel, lemon peel, angelica, coriander and fresh quince (grown on the grounds), are then added to the neutral grain spirit in the 140-litre gin still. This is heated, condensed and collected, after which it is diluted with water, filtered and bottled as the final gin.
Ramsbury’s sustainable approach can be seen throughout the process. The distillery uses heat generated by a biomass boiler fed by the estate’s own sustainable woodland and a heat recapture system operates across the site to store excess energy. Ash from the boiler is used as fertiliser on the land, cooling water is recycled as cleaning water, whilst methanol is stored and mixed with rapeseed oil to create bio fuel.
By caring so deeply for the land, Ramsbury is able to guarantee a good quality crop for its base spirit and ripe quince for the botanical blend. It’s “grain to glass”, single estate approach means not only excellent traceability but the utmost control, and its management of every step from field to table ensures only the highest quality products bear the Ramsbury ram’s head.
As Brand Ambassador, Mikul Kalyan straightforwardly puts it,
“We try to do things properly, because that ’s the way it should be done.”
Tasting Notes – Ramsbury Single Estate Gin
This begins with a clean, juniper-forward nose full of pine and fresh citrus notes but soon develops an unusual roundness imparting quince, juicy grapes, and something faintly reminiscent of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum. Spice follows in the form of black peppercorn, cloves. Not what we were expecting from what is essentially a classic botanical mix, plus quince.
A gorgeously oily texture that glides across the tongue, leaving behind pine, juniper, citrus oils, orris and pepper. Delicate florals pop up amongst grainy notes, whilst rounded, subtle quince lounges in the background. An elegant, classic gin done right.
Mikul has developed a number of delicious cocktail recipes that you can try at home. One of our personal favourites is the classic Dry Martini (recipes below) as the viscosity of the gin really holds its own, with the vermouth bringing out further intriguing fruit notes.
Ramsbury Single Estate Gin Dry Martini
60ml Ramsbury Single Estate Gin
10ml Dry vermouth
Add gin and vermouth to mixing glass filled with cubed ice. Stir until chilled and diluted. Strain gently into a chilled martini glass. Spritz with oils from a fresh lemon zest. Garnish with this or a rosemary sprig.
£32.25. Buy it from Master of Malt.