Double Gold medal winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017
“There is room for another gin if it’s as good as this one. It might be the best martini gin I have ever tasted”
Victoria Moore, Telegraph Weekend
“It is the most focused, clean and delicious gin I have tasted… a classic gin with a modern edge.”
The Gannet, Financial Times How to Spend It
“Probably the most important gin distillery to open in a decade.”
Tristan Stephenson in The Curious Bartender’s Gin Palace
The Moorland Spirit Co. was founded in one of Britain’s last wild sanctuaries of the Northumbrian Moors, to create spirits in high fidelity. Behind the doors of the distillery is an expressive and experimental laboratory seeking to distil the tastes of nature with their innovative triple technique.
The story began with the green juniper on the hills of the Hepple estate and the generations of old bushes that thrive there. Their aim was to bring juniper back to the heart of gin. By combining the uniquely fresh source of juniper with their pioneering distilling process, the award-winning Hepple Gin was created. Their gin-making technique takes seven times longer than normal and uses three quite separate systems, but is the only way to capture the taste of juniper – as it were, in high definition.
The process begins traditionally, by distilling a classic botanical mix in the copper pot still. Distiller Chris Garden makes a “one-shot” gin which is complex, balanced and above all smooth. For most other gins that is usually the end of the road. But for the Moorland Spirit Company, they have only just started. Some of the botanicals, notably those that are carefully harvested from the surrounding Hepple hills, including the young green juniper, take a detour through a glass vacuum still. The low temperature distillation of the glass still, ensures the most fragile flavours of the Hepple botanicals are preserved and the exceptional delicacy of the gin is forged at this stage.
At the core of a classic gin is juniper. Using a technique normally found to make the most expensive perfumes, the team have developed a way to layer a pure expression of juniper. This technique – called supercritical extraction – yields something rather unique – known as the “absolute” from the ripe juniper berries. This is the soul of juniper and what is added to create Hepple’s unique texture and exceptionally long, ringing finish. Finally, all these elements are precisely blended with water from the spring next to the distillery and then it is left to rest for at least a month. The unique gin-making method allows botanicals to ring through with great clarity individually and in exceptional harmony together.
Since launching Hepple Gin in October 2015 the Moorland Spirit Company has won the prestigious Double Gold Award at the San Francisco Spirits Awards in 2017 to add to their first Gold medal in 2016. They have recently been named finalists in the Best Drinks Producer category of the BBC Food & Farming Awards.
The distillery has also developed a forward-thinking sustainable juniper propagation programme on the moors around the distillery in association with Northumberland National Park, Newcastle University and Hepple Whitefield Farm. The rejuvenation programme plants out at least two hundred juniper seedlings each year, all grown from the estate’s own seed. The new permission from Natural England allows planting into the highly protected SSSI on the heather moors around the distillery, adding to the older stands already there.
It takes more than sixteen years for the female juniper to reach maturity and produce the green cone so prized by the Moorland Spirit team. Happily, a generation of young bushes planted over the 1990s is now moving to maturity and will help contribute to the harvest over the next decade.
Hepple Gin Tasting Notes:
“On the nose, there is an immediate fresh scent of green apple, bright grapefruit and a spicy juniper. This then opens up to reveal underlying notes of Douglas Fir, raspberry and rich blackcurrant. On sipping the initial fresh zesty citrus flavours evolve into an unexpected ripe melon, the spicy fragrant juniper continues to coat the palate. There is a very luscious sweet mouthfeel, which is both juicy and quenching. The finish is extremely long and this is where the juniper reveals itself further with flavours alternating between sandalwood and cedar that complement the sweet blackcurrant and liquorice. The sweet juiciness is maintained throughout the finish. This is a gin with a complex and sophisticated heart, but with added aroma and finish dimensions thanks to the unique way in which it is made.”
Nick Strangeway & Valentine Warner
In October 2018, The Moorland Spirit Company launched the highly anticipated Douglas Fir Vodka.
Two years in the making, this small batch release is an exciting new addition to the drinks market with a spirit created from the needles of the Douglas Fir, which flourishes on the grounds of the Hepple Estate.
Douglas Fir Vodka is also distilled using the Triple Technique. The Triple Technique distilling system when devoted to Douglas Fir is able to capture ‘the cold breath from the forest’ in high fidelity; bringing unexpected flavours of ripe melon and grapefruit alongside sweet pine. The Douglas Fir Vodka offers a unique and refreshing alternative to gin. It works deliciously well simply served with tonic over ice and garnished with melon, or alternatively as a worthy addition to cocktails.