Puddingstone Distillery - Campfire Gin
Ben and Kate Marston are the creative force behind the launch of Puddingstone Distillery in Wilstone, near Tring. This is the first distillery to be established in the beautiful Chilterns area and Ben and Kate are doing everything they can to link their business with the local community and environment.
With the slogan “The Spirit of the Outdoors”, their first product, a 42% London Dry gin named Campfire Gin is the epitome of their core values. Not only is Puddingstone Distillery focusing on sustainability and low impact, it is aiming to become an epicentre of like-minded, enthusiastic adventurers who share a passion for gin. Their love of travelling, engaging with the community and simply getting outside and doing stuff has led Ben and Kate to consider Puddingstone Distillery as so much more than a building in which to produce gin. They will host tours and tastings, but they also have bold plans lined up to incorporate events such as an outdoor cinema, campfire cooking evenings and stargazing nights.
Whilst you may be thinking this is all well and good, but what about the gin, don’t worry. Ben and Kate both have extensive experience within the brewing industry and have faithfully been researching gin, its history and all manner of distilling methods 24/7 since 2014. I’ve been lucky enough to meet Ben at several events over the past couple of years and it’s been thrilling to hear how their plans were developing and coming into fruition.
Campfire Gin is their focus for the moment, but they have high ambitions and are planning to launch navy strength, cask aged and seasonal versions, the latter highlighting the region’s seasonal crops. Also in the pipeline are a range of cocktail bitters and a modern interpretation of a drink that pulls in the historical links between the region and American president, George Washington. Go big or go home…
However, their steady development and commitment to detail means that I have faith each and every product will be carefully thought out, tried and tested a hundred times, (give or take a few) and they won’t suffer from biting off more than they can chew. This is a long-term project and Ben and Kate are in it wholeheartedly.
Ben is a designer by trade and has thrived in many creative and marketing roles, including his current position as marketing manager for a local brewery, (now you can see the brewing industry link). Kate is a graphic designer, with her own business, who recently won the Business Services category in the national Best Business Women Awards. Naturally, Kate is in charge of the design of Puddingstone Distillery’s and Campfire Gin’s logo and branding, including the bottle label which is beautiful.
In regards to the bottle itself, the environmental impact has been carefully considered. The glass used is half that of a standard bottle which cuts down on the amount of energy required for production, shipping and recycling. Portability, (for on your adventures) and ease of pouring were also taken into account. The bottle has a relatively large flat area for applying the label which obviously helps for sticking it on, but additionally it helps to showcase the clarity of the spirit.
With Kate’s expertise put to use, the label’s typeface creates the perfect blend between traditional and contemporary, just like the liquid inside. Drawing influences from old-fashioned wood-carved letters, the typeface was created using a series of complex mathematical equations, (which we won’t be detailing here!). However, it is named Obsidian which happens to be a glass-like structure formed from fast-cooling volcanic lava…which ties nicely to the Puddingstone name.
The name “Puddingstone” is also linked to the surrounding area. Wanting a connection to their community, Kate came across the historical use of Hertfordshire puddingstone to ward off evil spirits. Gin is a spirit so they ran with it and as Kate points out “they do say the proof is in the pudding!”
Personally, I found it interesting to learn that puddingstone is a type of rock with flint pebbles embedded in and that it’s named after the fact the pebbles look like the plums in a Christmas pudding…
As well as sourcing local botanicals for limited expressions of their gins, Puddingstone Distillery are “in discussions with a consultant in aquaponics, a sustainable alternative farming system that should allow us to locally grow botanicals that would otherwise have to be sourced from overseas.” The distillery building, which is shared with other local food producers, will soon have solar panels installed. The couple will also be setting up a rainwater harvesting tank to feed the stills’ condensers and heat reclamation for the building and parts of the distilling process.
You may be wondering how Ben and Kate have managed to do all of this…they’ve had an incredible amount of support from running a Crowdfunding campaign in late 2015. Whilst Crowdfunding may not be for every business, Puddingstone Distillery successfully exceeded the target of £20,000 and had lots of eager people waiting for their first sip of gin! No pressure there then. The pair are keen to point out though that this amount was hugely outweighed by their own personal investment.
Puddingstone Distillery is the proud owner of not one, but two stainless steel stills. Isabella holds 50 litres whilst Amelia holds 200. The stills’ names were chosen via a social media competition where Ben and Kate gave us several incredible intrepid and pioneering women to choose from. Isabella Lucy Bird and Amelia Earhart were voted the winners.
Fresh Sweet Orange Peel
Fresh Grapefruit Peel
The botanicals are macerated in neutral English wheat spirit prior to distillation.
Aromas: Bright rich orange peel over juniper with a deep earthiness underneath. A touch of cinnamon, liquorice and ripe berries.
Palate: A silky palate with a gorgeous texture. Smooth and quite subtly nuanced. Spiced orange and juniper at the fore with black pepper and a touch of violet. Gentle warming earthy spice on the finish with nutmeg on the end. A tiny bitter peel note.
With Tonic: Round orange peel and gentle berry tones with an almost almond-like note. Good weight on the palate with refreshing citrus, a juniper core and underlying spice.
Garnish: Pair with either rosemary or orange peel, depending on which element you'd like to heighten.
A vibrant example with a solid character – would be good in hot toddies and spiced cocktails. The liquid lives up to and holds together all of the exciting projects planned.