In September, The Spirit Co team caught up with Christopher Beaumont-Hutchings, owner of Chilgrove Spirits.
It's easy to understand why Christopher and his wife, Celia, decided to embark on their gin journey in the heart of West Sussex; the South Downs are in their full glory and provide a breathtaking backdrop to inspire their already successful spirits business. I met Christopher and we discussed all things gin at his home near Chilgrove.
Why did you want to create your own gin?
Chilgrove Spirits was founded by my wife Celia and I. We launched our first product ‘Chilgrove Dry Gin’ three years ago, followed by ‘Chilgrove Vodka’ about a year later and most recently our ground-breaking ‘Chilgrove Bluewater Edition Gin’ which is our first ‘Ultra-Premium’ spirit (and has just picked up Gold at the World Spirits Competition!).
Our decision to start making our own gin was borne out of a shared love of the spirit, many years of experience as consumers and a desire to bring something completely new to the world of gin.
Celia was born and raised in Holland and so had a deep knowledge of the actual history behind gin. It was this that inspired us to combine the original Dutch production methods together with traditional English flavours to create something that had never been done before.
Describe the thought process behind your use of botanicals
In a word, ‘balance’. Our Signature Edition gin combines eleven botanicals, many of which are locally farmed or foraged in Sussex. The piney notes of juniper and zesty citrus of sweet-orange, bitter-orange & lime are softened by the earthy warmth of the root botanicals (orris, angelica and liquorice) which then balance perfectly with the freshness of wild-water mint & savoury, followed by a final burst of spice delivered by the grains of paradise.
How do you see the market evolving from a gin perspective?
Brands continue to strive to bring new ideas and fresh flavours to the market which is fantastic to see. The fruit and flavoured gin sector especially is seeing incredible growth at the moment and I think it’s here that we will see the most interesting developments.
Are there too many gins on the market, how does that affect your proposition?
From our perspective, the more the merrier! Chilgrove was the very first grape-based gin to be produced in the UK and we continue to be the only gin using 100% grape-alcohol. This gives us a fantastic and genuine point of difference for consumers to get excited about.
We also note the amount of people we meet at consumer tasting events who have only ever tasted mass-produced gin from the ‘green bottle’ or perhaps the ‘blue bottle’. So despite the enormous amount of new market entrants…the market still has a long way to go!
What’s next for Chilgrove Spirits?
We are very excited to be launching our brand new ‘Bramble Edition Gin’. As with all our unique spirits, the story of our Bramble Edition Gin starts not with blackberries but with grapes. We combine 100% grape-alcohol with crystal-clear Sussex natural mineral water, from South Downs Water, along with twelve carefully balanced botanicals including blackberry.
The resulting London Dry Gin is then infused with stunning whole English blackberries for a full lunar cycle to fully capture the essence of this gloriously English fruit.
The result is a seriously-smooth, ruby-red gin just bursting with fruit. Introducing blackberries carefully in these two separate parts of the gin-making process ensures that juniper remains at the forefront which, coupled with our bottling-strength of 42% abv, truly earns its title of ‘Super-Premium Gin’.
How is your gin best enjoyed?
For me? Cold and neat! I think Alessandro Palazzi’s Dukes’ Martini is as close as you can get to the perfect gin cocktail.
Other than your own product, what brand of gin might you be sipping of an evening?
The number of different gins lining the shelves at Chilgrove HQ is now well over the 200 mark! We are genuinely excited by the new products appearing and spend a lot of time tasting and experimenting with them. If I had to pick one of the more recent additions that has scored highly with us it would be Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin which we picked up recently in The Netherlands.
A number of the team particularly enjoyed The Chilgrove Bluewater Edition Gin, combining botanical inspiration from Sussex and Australia. Mixed with lemon juice, Blue Curacao and orange peel made a refreshing and moreish Martini!
We’re pleased to be able to provide all of Christopher & Celia’s gins and links to them all can be found below:
The Chilgrove Bluewater Edition Gin
The Chilgrove Signature Edition Gin
The Chilgrove Bramble Edition Gin