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38


Jason Nickels, Head Distiller at BY THE DART TALKS TO


J Salcombe Gin


ason Nickels heads up the distilling process of Salcombe Gin. He oversees production on the impressive 450 litre


copper pot still which can be seen at Salcombe Distilling Co’s distillery on Island Street in Salcombe. He also runs the hugely popular ‘gin school’ where people make their own personal bottles of gin in mini stills at the distillery workshop. Salcombe Gin is the brainchild of


Howard and Angus (pictured below), who originally met in the 1990s while teaching sailing in the town. Over a gin and tonic, of course, they made plans to build a purpose built distillery in the heart of Salcombe. Head distiller Jason Nickels joined


Howard and Angus on the very first batch, batch number one. The com- pany is now on batch number 88. They started on two 60 litre stills in July last year, and then, when it became apparent just how much demand there was for Salcombe Gin, they invested in the impressive 450 litre still, which produced its first batch in January.


Jason said: ‘I was the final bit of the


jigsaw in a way. Howard and Angus had developed an exceptionally good gin, and I helped manage the transition to a larger scale production process whilst maintaining our exacting standards to ensure the consistent high quality of the gin with no compromises. ‘I was one of the two who started


the South Devon Chilli Farm in Loddiswell back in 2003, so my background is in mixing textures and flavours. ‘Combining the ingredients that


go into the gin, including the flowers, herbs and spices, are all things I’ve worked on at the Chilli Farm.’ Salcombe Gin is made from 13 such ingredients and distilled with wheat spirit and pure Dartmoor water to produce a gin of top quality. A blend of grapefruit, lemons and limes is added, inspired by the history of the Salcombe ‘fruiters’ – ships that were built in the town and imported citrus fruits and spices to the main ports of England from the Azores, West Indies and Mediterranean in the


19th century. The citrus fruits are hand peeled


every morning to ensure the fresh- ness of the citrus oils. Then the other botanical ingredients are added, including Macedonian juniper, liq- uorice, green cardamom, chamomile flowers, bay leaf, coriander seeds, cubeb berries and cinnamon bark. After the distilling process the gin is blended with water originating from Dartmoor to reduce to a bottling strength at 44%, left to rest and then bottled. Jason said: ‘The bottling machinery


is very noisy for the nearby office so, every Tuesday when we bottle up the next batch, we start at seven in the morning. Tasting and checking the gin at that time of the morning makes for an interesting start to the day!’ Jason explained that Salcombe uses the London Gin method of making gin, which was developed in the mid 19th century. He explained, ‘London Gin is a


standard to abide by. It means the gin has to be a very high quality spirit with the original pre-blended distil-


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