Wheadon’s Gin hails from the serene island of Guernsey. Luke Wheadon’s family have lived on the island for over 200 years. His family have enjoyed direct links to the production and distribution of alcohol since becoming involved with Bucktrouts in 1865. The drinks industry has formed an integral part of their family history and Guernsey’s heritage.
Today, the Wheadon family continue their ancestors’ successes with their luxury hotel, Bella Luce in St Martins. This historic Norman manor house embodies the spirit of the island, conveying understated elegance in a comfortable style.
“…delivering a little bit of luxury,
but with your shoes kicked off.”
Wishing to further the family enterprise and put his own stamp on the business, Luke turned his attention to the flourishing gin market. He established a distillery within the hotel and now produces a range of products alongside offering guests the opportunity to see the processes first-hand and craft their own bottle of gin.
Luke began his career as a chef and is infatuated by flavour. This experimental outlook, always seeking new combinations and exciting twists led Luke to the drinks industry. His creative flair and understanding of the entire process put him in the perfect position for setting up his own enterprise.
Luke began his gin production on three 20 litre alembic stills. However, with the need to expand, this shiny 230 litre Mueller still is due to arrive from Germany at the end of the month. It’s an exciting time in the Wheadon’s distillery!
Currently, Luke is producing around 300 bottles of gin per week, but the arrival of their new still will see production increase to 250 bottles per day. That’s not to say they will be distilling every single day, but it gives them much more flexibility and scope.
The design of the distillery has been developed conscientiously to fit in with hotel’s relaxed, yet authentic décor and ambience. The distillery will be open for the guests to see and Luke will run distilling workshops. This is a fantastic way of adding value and integrity to both the gin brand and the hotel experience.
The distillery was established in 2015 with a range of gins being launched in June 2016. They are available in 52 bars and restaurants locally as well as in duty free on the Aurigny airline. The gins have made the leap across to Jersey and with the addition of their new still, hopefully they will be able to begin selling to the mainland.
Wheadon’s Gin is currently available in two different expressions: Mandarin Lime & Hibiscus and Rock Samphire & Pink Grapefruit.
Luke very kindly sent me a sample of the Rock Samphire and Pink Grapefruit gin, so this is the one we’ll focus on. The fresh pink grapefruit peel and the locally-foraged Guernsey rock samphire are both distilled separately due to their limited life spans. The use of fresh ingredients is tricky for any distiller, but by creating a concentrated liquor, Luke has access to these flavours all year round and preserves their unique qualities.
The dried botanicals are not macerated prior to distillation, instead they are distilled immediately via the one-shot method. The gin comes off the still at around 73 – 78% ABV. The rock samphire and pink grapefruit distillates are then combined.
The gin is brought down to bottling strength by the addition of filtered local Guernsey water.
Dried Orange Peel
Dried Lemon Peel
Luke worked closely with a local designer at the Pottingshed Design studio, (who have offices on Jersey and Guernsey) to develop the Wheadon’s Gin labels and branding. They wished to create an understated elegance which gently highlights the copper used in the distillery whilst providing space for handwritten notes. The bottle is sealed with copper wax which has a tab for opening easily in a clean manner. I personally think it’s a very effective label. Whilst it may not shout in the way some others do, it conveys a sense of reliability and craftsmanship. I love the small arched doorway logo.
Aromas: Bright, round and deep. Zesty pink grapefruit at the fore with a juniper and cassia core. A touch of blueberry alongside red berries.
Palate: Incredibly silky and fresh. Bright and sumptuous. A deep juniper structure with gentle green marine nuances and layered top notes of grapefruit and citrus.
With Tonic: Louched slightly. Fresh, bright and bracing in an almost saline style. Rich orange peel and dense juniper.
Garnish: Amp up the citrus with a twist of grapefruit.
I’m really impressed with Wheadon’s Gin. The quality of the liquid combined with the elegant labelling makes a very solid product. The added temptation of booking into the hotel to distil your own can only be a good thing!