A GIN distiller whose business started from his Kineton kitchen three years ago is joining forces with the hotelier who became his first customer – for the launch of a new Warwickshire gin school.
A transformed formerly derelict 17th-century castle tower is the unique setting for The Castle Gin School, which opens in February.
It marks an expansion for Pinnock Distillery’s Dan Beckett whose collaboration with The Castle at Edgehill, also celebrates the brands’ shared historical connections.
Dan, who now runs his distillery from the grade II-listed tower overlooking the site of the English Civil War’s first battle, said: “This was our local and we’ve been coming here for about eight years. It is the first pub I got the gin into and a very special place to me.
“We’re going to be making the gin at a location where Charles 1st raised the standard at the Battle of Edgehill in 1642. He was the first ruler to tax alcohol in the 1630s when many people were distilling in their kitchens and regulated it all. The fact that the gin school will be overlooking the very spot where he stood at the top of the hill in the battle is unique.
“When I started out I was quite keen to keep things as traditional as possible and use a recipe from around that period. I found a recipe book that had been republished from 1636 – so based all my botanicals from that period.”
Local provenance runs through the heart of Pinnock Gin. The 11 botanicals used in its original Warwickshire Dry gin include Cotswold Lavender from Snowshill, near Broadway, quince from Warwick and honey from Red Road Nursery pick your own farm in Little Kineton.
The distillery also sources local ingredients for its Rhubarb and Strawberry and Sloe, Damson and Honey blends and is soon to introduce a new rum recipe which gin schoolers will be among the first to try.
Visitors to The Castle will learn about the history and provenance of the product and location, before being guided by Dan through the gin-making process using a range of botanicals.
The Castle Gin School, which was supported by a grant from Warwickshire County Council, is the latest offering from The Castle at Edgehill, which also boasts an award-winning restaurant, four-star accommodation and wedding licence.
The venue is one of four under the ownership of The Free Spirit Pub Company founded by Mark Higgs.
Mark said: “I’m over the moon we have managed to team up with Dan, a genuine Gin boff! I’m super excited about growing both the Castle and Pinnock brands and offering something truly unique and special to our wonderful guests.
“Pinnock Gin is a great product and we’re both on a journey where we can each bring different elements to the project. It’s great to be able to offer something more and add another aspect to the business and this certainly offers something a little bit different. I don’t know of any other pub that offers a nano distillery. This new project will allow us to continue to evolve and grow.”
The new venture also marks a return to teaching for former Warwickshire College lecturer Daniel, who, two years ago, walked away from his career to pursue his dream of running a distillery.
“It’s a great opportunity to tap into my wider skillset share my passion for gin and gin-making with other people. But the main aim is for everyone to have fun and for people to walk away at the end with a bottle of gin that they’ll enjoy.
“Together, we knew we had the potential to create one of the most iconic and breath-taking micro gin distilleries and so, the Castle Gin School was born.”
Visit www.pinnockdistillery.com/ginschool for further details.