Could you give me a background of how and why Hepple Gin came about
Four years ago Valentine Warner, (broadcaster and chef) organised a meeting, amongst the juniper bushes on the hills around Hepple that belonged to his old friend Walter Riddell, with Nick Strangeway, bartender supremo and his business colleague Cairbry Hill, drinks developer.
It became clear that we wanted to reinvent the way gin is made to really allow the fresh, vivid flavour of juniper to sing, using the most advanced modern techniques. We were then, with huge luck, joined by Chris Garden, who had been the head distiller at Sipsmith for the previous six years, who now runs our distillery at Hepple.
What are the unique processes or ingredients of Hepple Gin?
Hepple is made by blending the best of gin tradition with modern distilling and flavour extraction techniques. We make our base gin on our copper pot still and then add distillates from a glass vacuum still and juniper extract from a super critical fluid extraction column. Some of the botanicals are harvested right on our doorstep and include green juniper and Douglas fir. The resulting gin contains the full spectrum of juniper and is wonderfully fresh, brilliant in a martini. No one else is making gin in this way.
Nick Strangeway with his bartending experience and background must be a great asset. For those who don’t know him could you give a bit of background to Nick and his career.
Nick began bartending in the early 1990’s (whilst studying at The Courtauld Institute of Art) under the tutelage of Dick Bradsell at Fred’s Club in Soho. Nick went on to work alongside Dick in numerous seminal establishments including The Flamingo, Detroit and Atlantic Bar & Grill. In 1998 Nick became bar manager of new St James bar and restaurant Che. During his time there, Nick won numerous awards including the inaugural Evening Standard ‘Bar of the Year’.
In 2003, he moved into the world of drinks consultancy working on venues such as Floridita, Boisdale, Harvey Nichols and The Hospital and with global brands Beefeater, Havana Club, Stolichnaya and Absolut Vodka.
In 2006 Nick opened The Hawksmoor steakhouse, which quickly became the recipient of many awards for both food and drink, including Best Restaurant Bar in 2006. Nick has become known the world over for both his innovation and his deep understanding of the history of mixed drinks.
In 2008, he was awarded the prestigious title of International Mixologist of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. Nick has established a long term working relationship with a number of high profile chefs, most notably Giorgio Locatelli and Mark Hix.
How do you see the gin category in the UK in the short and medium term?
I see continued growth in the short term, more distilleries more gins and more people starting to drink gin. I also see a lot more tonics coming to the market. Medium term distilleries will have to develop new products and become creative in the way they keep the consumers attention, innovation will help this massively.
Which Gin would you enjoy after a long days work (and you can’t choose your own)?
What is the perfect serve of Hepple Gin and Why?
10 parts gin, 1 part vermouth, stirred 30 times in ice, garnished with a twist.
What can guests expect at your interactive sessions at Boutique Bar Show?
They will be able to taste the individual distillates and juniper extract that goes into the gin and understand what the different techniques bring to the final product.