At the Sibling Distillery in Cheltenham, a very unusual and distinctive gin is distilled by the world’s youngest distilling team – four brothers and sisters, Felix, Clarice, Cicely and Digby Elliott-Berry.
The idea to create their own gin was inspired by their experiences working at the Battledown Brewery started by their parents in 2005. Understanding the inner workings of a microbrewery has set them in good stead for their venture into craft distilling. They were keen to work together to create something unique and gin, as a versatile spirit that could work with different flavour combinations, seemed ideal.
Unusually, rather than buying in neutral grain spirit to redistill with botanicals, they decided to adopt a ‘grain to glass’ approach creating their own base spirit using the mash tuns at the Battledown Brewery. Rather than the traditional alembic copper pot still, their still is constructed from glass and stainless steel with a 12 foot column and a carter head, the first of its kind in Europe. This unique construction allows them to monitor every stage of the distillation process with precision so that they can ensure the final gin is exactly to their specifications.
First, a base spirit is distilled from cane sugar and carbon filtered to ensure maximum purity. The botanicals are then added to the basket in the carter head for a final distillation where the vaporised spirit passes through the botanical basket where it is infused with flavours from the fruits, herbs and spices. To ensure the fresh flavours are captured in the final spirit, the botanicals are replaced after every 17 litres of distilled gin and only the heart of the distillate is used for the final bottling. After distillation, the spirit is cut down to a bottling strength of 42% ABV with spring water sourced from the Cheltenham hills, which is purified by natural filtration through fuller’s earth.
Their initial experiments with different botanicals were conducted on a mini-still. They tested the trial recipes on a host of willing members of the public and also worked with leading cocktail mixologists to refine the flavour profile of their gin. The final recipe is a mix of traditional and refreshingly unusual botanicals, consisting of juniper, lemon and orange peel, coriander, cubeb, orris, cardamom, liquorice, Madagascan vanilla and blueberries.
The first batch of Sibling Gin was released in June 2014 and was quickly adopted in Cheltenham’s bars and restaurants. Its reputation and unusual heritage soon spread and the siblings found their gin in demand across the UK. A host of industry awards followed, including a maximum three stars at the Great Taste Awards and a bronze medal at the International Spirits Challenge 2015. The Elliott-Berrys have created a unique artisan gin which makes a brilliant and refreshingly fruity gin & tonic with an orange zest garnish.