I'm all about supporting local businesses, so I knew my first gin post had to be local and what a gin to start with... Carpenter's Gin.
Carpenter's Gin distiller Ed Rodger, full time Cabinet Maker and part time Gin Maker, originally created in East London in 2014 has bought his gin home to Suffolk where his distillery is now at Suffolk Food Hall in Ipswich.
Distilled in a small artisan rectifying pot, only 80 bottles are made per batch. You know it's small batch when each bottle's batch number is hand written. It's such a nice touch.
ASK THE CREATOR - ED RODGERS
To find out more about Carpenters Gin, I got in touch with Ed Rodger, creator of Carpenter's Gin and here's what he had to say...
I see that your Great Grandfather, Grandfather and Father were all in the drinks industry, what made you want to follow in their footsteps and start making your own gin?
From a young age I understood some of the basic production processes of brewing and distilling. This was explained to me by my Dad who loved the idea of passing on his knowledge. Some of which was passed on to him from his Dad.
I guess it really started when I was about 15. My parents had an apple tree in the garden and as two of my brothers had already left home, there were a surplus of apples and a library of alcohol related textbooks. I found one of my Dad’s old wine texts and set about making cider. What I lacked in experience and equipment, I more than made up for in enthusiasm. A long story short, I managed to make a very good dry cider and using the same technique that is used to make champagne fizzy, gave my cider fizz.
This was my first step into making alcohol and I loved it! Over the years I made a few different fruit wines and ciders and even worked for a few months in a winery in Australia. I always loved brewing and found distilling fascinating, but as opportunity arose my initial career commenced as a Cabinet Maker.
Years later when the latest wave of gin distilleries began opening, I thought this was an opportunity that could not be missed. I approached a number of new distilleries to see if there was any chance of working with them. At this time I had no qualification or commercial experience as a distiller so the answer was unfortunately no.
This spurred me on to study in my free time and a year later I gained a qualification as a distiller. I added this to my CV but was still unable to find employment in a distillery.
The desire to make gin was very strong, so I set up on my own. I continue to operate independently.
I love the fact you use oak chips as a botanical in your gin, how did you get the idea of using them and did you know it was going to work straight away?
The idea to use white oak chips had a very simple origin. I was thinking about the flavours that come from maturing other spirits in oak barrels and wanted to include some of those flavours in a gin. The trouble was that I wanted to make a classic gin and not an oak aged gin. The solution was to use the oak during the distillation and not put the gin into a barrel.
With my background as a Cabinet Maker I knew quite a lot about the different species of oak and what they could be used for. Without getting too nerdy about it there are two species of oak that are commonly used for barrel making, Quercus Alba (or white oak) and Quercus Robur (often called common, European or English oak). The white oak will give a spirit a much sweeter flavour due to the higher vanillin content. Vanillin is also what gives vanilla it’s flavour.
I used the white oak because I really enjoy the buttery smoothness you get in a spirit that is aged in white oak barrels. I was pretty confident it would work because of my studies of wood and alcohol.
Apart from your own, what’s your favourite gin and why?
That is a very hard question. It really depends on my mood. I think that ‘Brecon Botanicals Gin’ is a possibly the best Gin you can get in a supermarket. It’s a great one for a few easy gin and tonics.
If I’m looking to treat myself with a dry martini you can’t go too far wrong with ‘Deaths Door’. This gin has a beautiful sweetness from a generous portion of almond during distillation.
We know why your gin is called Carpenter’s Gin, but is there a story behind your logo? Why a stag?
The stag is a nod to my family history. My last name being Rogers which has a family crest of a stag. I felt it was important to include this in the brand, as my base knowledge and love of fine drinks all came from my family.
What’s next for Carpenter’s Gin?
The summer fruits in Britain are just fantastic. So next summer I will be trialling a range of fruit Gins.
I have also been planning a new Gin recipe. I don’t want to say too much, but I plan to use as many locally sourced botanicals as possible to create a Gin to sum up my home county of Suffolk.
Describe your gin in 3 words…
Well made classic
A massive thank you to Ed for supporting me and answering my questions. I can't wait to taste your new gin when it comes on the scene as well as any fruit gin you create.