We built Gorilla Spirits from the ground up...
Gorilla Spirits Co. was first conceived in 2010 and another five years went by before Silverback Gin was launched just before Christmas 2015. Looking back it’s a good job we didn’t realise just how complex the project was going to be.
Finding suitable premises, designing the distillery and obtaining the necessary licences seemed, at times, to be an endless series of challenges. There is a staggering amount of red tape involved when it comes to licensing and health and safety and we made it even harder for ourselves by designing everything from the ground up.
The distillery itself is industrial grade but micro scale so it was a bit like designing and building a model railway but without the benefit of being able to buy off the shelf tracks, trains and station buildings. All in all it took around 18 months to design and then another 14 months to build.
Silverback too was a painstaking development with more than 100 different gins produced before we finally got what we were looking for. It was worth the wait though as we have produced a spectacularly good gin – a double medal winner too at the 2016 International Wine & Spirit Competition!
'she who is content'
Our still, Mugwaneza (meaning ‘she who is content’), has a 200-litre capacity and comprises both traditional copper pot head as well as a six-plate fractionating column.
Mugwaneza is heated very gently by circulating hot water through a coil – low and slow is our motto for distilling the very best product – and she is digitally enabled and controlled from a touch screen control panel which helps us to achieve fantastically consistent results.
Mugwaneza is able to make around 250 bottles at a time.
Claire & Andy Daniels
Claire & Andy Daniels have had a life-long passion for all things food and drink-related and both are accomplished cooks in their own right.
When in 2008 Sipsmith (craft distillers like us owe them a debt of gratitude) successfully challenged HMRC to obtain a licence to distil in a small 300 litre still (the first licence to be granted in over 100 years), this sparked Andy’s imagination and the start of an adventure which in time became the Gorilla Spirits Co.
Andy spent several years learning about distilling in general and then gin making specifically. He met with and received advice and guidance from a number of distillers, both small artisan distillers whose products Andy liked as well as one or two of the major distillers who were good enough to give him some of their time and experience.
We set out to create a really ‘approachable’ gin that was both strong and gentle – a theme that was carried through to the naming of the company and it’s products – and we made more than 100 different gins and individual distillations before Silverback began to emerge.
Along the way we came across Peter Spanton No.9 Cardamon Tonic which is an incredibly ‘approachable’ tonic water and so we set this as our target tonic water as we went about designing Silverback. Our perfect serve has therefore been designed from the outset so it’s no surprise how good it is.
Claire is a qualified Pharmacy Dispenser but these days she spends more time dispensing ‘the ultimate G&T’!
Dr David Clutton
To ensure that what we created was the very best it could be we enlisted the help of Dr David Clutton. David is a chemist by training and began his career in 1968 in the Research and Development department at W&A Gilbey Ltd, one of the oldest names in London Dry Gin.
An independent consultant since 1997, David is very selective about the assignments he undertakes. He has lent his extensive knowledge of spirits distillation and pot stills to a small number of companies in the world of Spirits and could immodestly claim direct responsibility for helping to create some of the most prestigious brands of gin in the world today.
We are enormously indebted to David for believing in what we are doing and for working alongside us throughout our final formulation, coaching and guiding us to create something really new and exciting.
David and Andy continue to work on other other projects together and there are some exciting new products to come.