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late at least 70% ABV (Salcombe Gin is around 85% prior to blending), an extremely low level of methanol and no fruit or colouring must be added after distillation. ‘It’s a historic thing and was


introduced as a mark of quality for consumer protection with a few common sense rules to make something palatable, not poisonous.’ Salcombe Gin started selling last summer with an initial focus in the South West and the bar opened at the end of the year. Jason said: ‘At the tail end of summer last year, whilst waiting for the main Island Street premises to complete development, we were giving out samples in the street and selling with temporary licences. ‘We hadn’t had the full taste of summer until this year. We expected it to be busy but it’s really exceeded our expectations.’ Business is now booming, with a


friendly bar overlooking the water selling ‘S&Ts’ – Salcombe and tonics; a ‘gin school’, shop and even a gin hamper service delivering to yachts in the harbour. The ‘gin school’ was launched


in March this year, and creates an amazing environment for people to make their own unique bottles of gin on a miniature still. Jason runs the gin school


workshops on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The mid-week sessions were added at the start of the summer holidays but have been so popular they’re continuing until the end of the year. Each workshop runs for three hours with around 16 people, many in couples, producing a bottle of their


own gin. Stacks of Kilner jars include a delicious assortment of ingredients to make everyone’s bottle unique to them.


Jason said: ‘It’s a complete gin


making process in miniature. People pour the alcohol, water and wheat spirit into their own still; add the main ingredient of juniper berries; choose from a range of ingredients; then seal the still and set the distillation process going.


a name and sticking the label on! ‘It’s lots of classroom fun and


always looks like a professional bottle of gin at the end. There’s been no disasters so far – nobody’s ever spilt their gin.’


Classes are punctuated with lots of


S&Ts throughout the afternoon and finish with a glass of the participants’ own gin in the bar. The gin school has proved very popular and, after being marketed at boat shows and gin festivals, has attracted more visitors to the town this summer. Jason said: ‘Salcombe is busy in


Tasting and checking the gin at that time of the morning makes for an interesting start to the day!’


‘You can taste the gin as you go along but unlike making a curry you can’t add anything extra, so we guide them on optimum amounts of botanicals to us in their recipes so that everyone gets a decent bottle.’ Participants can add savoury


tones, including coriander and dried cucumber, chillis of course; sweet ingredients such as vanilla and honey; and fruit and floral botanicals. They then choose a name and label


for their bottle and proudly put it in a wooden presentation box. Jason said: ‘Most couples have no


problem agreeing on the ingredients. The pressure tends to be on choosing


general but people are now coming to Salcombe just for the gin school – from Cornwall, Exeter, Bristol, London, Birmingham, Newcastle and further afield. Half of the people in our gin school have visited the town for the purpose of making their own gin. ‘The opening of the gin school


has extended Salcombe Gin into an artistic and creative environment. It’s also great fun working with the participants, especially seeing the pleasure they get from producing their own delicious and unique bottle of gin.’ This year, Salcombe Gin will be sponsoring the Dartmouth Food Festival Bar on the South Embankment so be sure to pop in for a signature ‘Salcombe & Tonic’ or a tantalising cocktail. www.salcombegin.com


Interview by Kate Cotton


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