The ethically driven Gorilla Spirits distillery in Upton Grey was the location for a fantastic afternoon a few weeks ago where I was lucky enough to be a ‘pupil’ at their gin school.
More on that shortly, but first a little bit about Gorilla Spirits and their ethos.
Founded in 2015 by Andy Daniels who decided one day that Gin Distilling was going to be his next challenge in life, (his wife we suspect thought he meant a ‘home brew” type approach as opposed to the scale the business has become.
From small beginnings the business has grown and from their business model on day one has donated £1 from every bottle sold to The Gorilla Organisation, with the objective of ensuring the continued existence of an endangered gorilla population. They are currently on track to be the single biggest donor to the cause. I frequently feature and talk about Gins who are giving something back, and this is a living and breathing example of how by capitilising on our growing desire for Gin, businesses can directly deliver benefit to a diverse range of charities and organisations.
The range of spirits they produce is varied and currently includes;
Silverback Mountain Strength Gin,
Silverback Raspberry Gin
Silverback Old Tom Gin,
Blackback Mountain Strength
Maraba Coffee Liqueur
But more is on the way….
Gorilla Spirits Gin mirrors so closely the creatures they are fighting to protect. The gin is, ‘strong and gentle’, whilst Mountain Gorillas are strong gentle, shy yet powerful. These Silverback Gorillas will guard their band or troop before their own territory.
So on to the part you have all been waiting for, Gin School and the experience. Firstly, Gorilla spirits from the outside has to be one of the most unassuming buildings you will see, quite new, sleek and on the outskirts of a sleepy village (with a stunning pub ‘The Hoddington Arms’, who put service and the customer experience at the heart of what they do), yet not anywhere you would expect to find it.
BUT..and it’s a big but, from the moment you enter the building and see the forbidding huge model Gorilla at the top of a staircase enticing you up, it’s as though you have stepped through the Gin Looking Glass. The Gin School has an amazing bar and the walls around the entrance to the school are stocked with their fantastic range of Spirits and merchandise. At this point there was a mental shopping list being created for later. Kirsty, a key member of the team welcomed us and was absolutely fantastic from start to finish, with her complete focus on ensuring that the experience was memorable, keeping us on track at all times. It was an incredibly relaxed and chilled environment with Kirsty spending time with each of us as she needed to, not daunting just Gin Making.
Having been welcomed with a G&T, the Mini Copper Stills caught my eye surrounded by all of the ‘tools’ needed to create my own Gin. There were shelves of botanicals around the room lying in wait to be chosen for each of our Gin creations.
And so the school began, and after a really informative introduction I was provided with my own still and all of the detail I needed on each of the botanicals to start creating Gin using my still which was called ‘Gutangara’. I wont allude to a huge amount of detail on the process that followed, you should experience it for yourself, however if you are a complete beginner or a seasoned Gin expert, this is the Gin school for you. Your experience is subtly tailored to where you are on your Gin journey and you will love every minute.
With the botanicals chosen (and checked by Kirsty to ensure my creative juices were not about to result in a Gin no one would drink) the Gin distilling, and the name for The Gin Den creation chosen, we were given a tour of the rest of Gorilla Spirits by the aforementioned Andy, which was again informative at every level. Their approach to distilling and the journey they have taken to meet demand by gradually upscaling is admirable, they have a model that simply works.
So back to The Gin School and whilst my Gin was in the final stages of distillation, we stood at the bar and tried a number of amazing G&Ts and spirits from the Gorilla Spirits range, before moving back to our stills and taking the final steps to weighing and bottling our Gin. Kirsty ensured at all times we were all absolutely doing the right thing at the right time. Think Gin Coach not Gin Teacher.
And so it was bottled, and the labelling applied by each of us. My Gin named ‘From the Den’ was created.
With not all of the Gin distilled being able to fit in our bottles we were given a neat taste of our creation and then Kirsty made the perfect serve based on our choice of botanicals. Gin School was complete and the purchasing of some of the Gorilla Spirits Range completed.
Gorilla Spirits Gin School: The Gin Den Rating – Outstanding