Avian Sandercock from The Wrecking Coast Distillery:
“And So It Began …
Why did we start our particular journey into the world of craft distilling? Simple really, it was born out of a desire to drink a better gin. A gin we could enjoy with friends and be proud to say, “we made that!”
We had a clear vision of our gin being smooth on the palate, distinctive and unique but remaining true to the core flavours of gin
As the craft market began to develop, we discovered more and more variety in gin opening our minds to new and exciting possibilities.
Enjoying the gin itself quickly became a natural need to understand more about how it was made, how the flavours worked, combined and complimented each other.
Research, Make, Test, Repeat
14 months quickly passed with us immersed in reading, researching and tasting which led to a revelation.
We could do this too.
With “chemistry set” apparatus and huge enthusiasm, we set to work, liberally adding and subtracting herbs, berries, spices and seeds. Our initial attempts were indicative of our “running before we could walk” excitement and a few rather off-colour offerings brought us abruptly back to the ground, with a bump.
Enthusiasm and passion still intact, we went back to basics. Bit by bit, with careful testing and step by step modification, within a year and some 50 plus variations, we had the basis of what we knew was a good spirit.
From the outset, we had wanted to include that icon of Cornwall, clotted cream. The smoothness and vanilla notes were so evocative of summer and we began by trying to produce a pure cream spirit that captured that velvety richness. Once perfected, we began to build a spicy gin to surround it, to compliment and contradict the richness of the cream but to still remain a definitive gin. We wanted a gin that could be sipped neat on a cold winter’s day but also a gin that sat well with tonic on a hot evening.
In the production of Clotted Cream, the cream is baked in its pot giving the iconic golden crust and smooth, firm cream beneath. But when heated the cream will separate and the flavours become more caramel than cream. So we use a hand blown glass vacuum still to our own specification to distil the neutral spirit and fresh clotted cream at below room temperature, creating a crystal clear spirit that retains the flavours of the cream together with the velvety rich mouth feel.
The process takes time and has to be constantly monitored which means we can only make very small quantities at a time. However, it is these small details that make the big difference.
In selecting our still, we did a huge amount of research. Traditional thinking dictates a variation of the ancient Alembic still or a modified European fruit still. Some still swear by copper stills that have been producing gin for centuries. But we wanted to bring our gin into the 21st Century. We wanted to be able to put all our efforts into developing and producing our unique gin and not into coaxing old technology to life.
We kept coming back to iStill, a Dutch company run by Odin, the genius behind their computer-controlled stills. We travelled out to Woerden in Holland to meet him and hit it off straight away. His technology matched exactly what we wanted to achieve and his depth of knowledge and passion for distilling was only matched by his boundless enthusiasm and genuine desire for us produce the best gin we can.
iStill’s mantra, ‘distilling made easy’ is exactly what we wanted. Our iStill does what we ask of it, every time. We don’t waste time worrying about the science of distillation, the still takes care of that for us.
From our early daft questions to more detailed discussions as our confidence grew, Odin and his team have never wavered in their support and positivity to our endeavours.
Our little iStill 50 has become a part of the family, a trusted tool. Its reliability, simplicity and ease of use allows us to concentrate on the important business of getting our gin just right. So much so that we have named him Harry Too after our fathers, Harry Penn and Harry Sandercock. We are already making plans to house Harrys’ 2 – the new iStill 500 NextGen!
Our Passion, Bottled
Our unique gin needed a unique identity. An identity that was rooted in the area where our gin was born, Tintagel, Cornwall.
In the height of summer with soft southerly winds, clear blue sky and almost tropical aquamarine seas, Cornwall’s North Coast is idyllic. In the depths of winter with 30 foot waves crashing relentlessly against the towering slate and granite cliffs, the true power and majesty of raw nature is awe inspiring.
History spells a warning to unwary mariners, this is a Wrecking Coast!
To capture this we commissioned local artist and Camelford Gallery owner, John Blight to provide us with a unique piece of art.
This forms our label that we apply by hand, the precise ABV, the batch and bottle number is hand written, and each bottle signed by its maker.
We hand seal each bottle with two layers of wax, gold and cream, to remind us of the golden crust and rich creaminess of clotted cream.
We are fortunate to be able to call this area home and to base our distillery here. We are lucky that we can step out of the front door and see the ocean with her myriad of moods and we hope to capture that in a bottle and share it with you.