Living on the edge of Dartmoor, walking and exploring its forests and tors, has been the inspiration for husband and wife team, Adam and Shelly Smith, who set up Dartmoor Spirit Craft Distillery two years ago.
“Our step into the world of distilling was quite unplanned,” explains Adam. “We’d always enjoyed making homemade wine and beer plus the yearly event of picking sloe berries to make sloe gin for Christmas. And it was on one of our regular family walks that we came up with the idea of using berries, blossom and other natural ingredients to make gin that had a truly distinctive flavour.
“The idea turned into a huge gin adventure for us. We distil our gin spirit in very small batches – no more than 50 bottles per batch. This gives us the control to produce a gin that goes that extra mile in quality flavour, creativity – and just pure effort and care.
“The seasons, and their associated wild ingredients are our inspiration. It’s illegal to forage on Dartmoor commercially so we go to friends’ land where we can source our ingredients from their hedgerows, woodland and streams.
“We knew we would face regular challenges with a seasonal recipe as we would not be sticking to a rigid gin recipe that was replicated and bottled by the hundreds of litres.
“With each season’s newly emerging berries and blossom we create new recipes and flavour combinations that reflect the season and offer a distinctive flavour experience that would be revered and enjoyed by any true gin lover.”
Rather than soaking and stewing the botanicals in spirit – which is how the vast majority of gin producers prepare for distillation – Adam and Shelly use vapour infusion, a more delicate and reverent process.
The gin botanicals are held in a fine mesh gin basket within the still and as the heated spirit vapours rise the unique flavours of the botanicals are gently released and join together in a vapour infusion which then passes through a copper condenser. The captured gin spirit is then carefully blended with pure Dartmoor spring water to create a premium quality London Dry gin of 42%vol.