Two years. That’s how long it took for Graham Carr-Smith to hit on the perfect flavour profile for cucumber gin. But before too long, there was no stopping him.
Graham, the managing director of The English Drinks Company, runs the firm with his wife – and it was only after successfully producing, selling and promoting a delicious cucumber flavoured sparkling water that the pair decided to branch out into gin.
The sparkling cucumber water had gone down so well at trade and consumer shows, Graham tells Fairway Insider, that the business-focused duo were regularly asked when they might produce an alcoholic version. That was that. The wheels were in motion and they set out on what would prove a long, challenging but oh-so-rewarding process creating a perfectly refreshing cucumber gin.
A Great Flavour Pay-Off
“After two years of development, we produced our first gin in 2016.” says Graham, who tells us that the husband and wife team almost gave up. This was after discovering how arduous a process it was to distil cucumbers and enjoy the eventual reward of a great flavour pay-off.
But a friend who made essential oils on an industrial scale saved the day, letting the couple in on a trade secret: distil the cucumbers separately, before adding them back into the spirit.
A Perfectly Flavoured Gin
What followed was a pure cucumber distillate – and a perfectly flavoured gin. Before long, the pair had launched a pink gin following a similar process – and today the company also produces a zesty orange gin and a delicious Lemon Grove gin. The latter features in a mouth-wateringly moreish Tarte Au Citron, one of the latest products in our Fairway Excellence range.
Of course, only the most luxurious products gets promoted to our Excellence collection – and this bespoke dessert is no exception. Featuring a hand crowned sweet short pastry for a light and crumbly texture, it’s filled with zesty lemon curd made from Sicilian lemons, before being topped with a traditional handcrafted lemon gin. Combined, this distinct tarte has a delicious citrus note and a smooth texture.
Tantalising Array of Botanicals
Handcrafted in one of the UK’s oldest distilleries using copper stills that date back to the late 1800s, the gin The English Drinks Company manufacture is produced using traditional methods and with only the finest ingredients.
Made with 100% British grain and distilled to the highest standards, the brand’s beverage portfolio features a tantalising array of botanicals. These include juniper berries from the Balkans, orange peel from Spain, Angelica root from France, cassia bark from China, and orris root from Italy.
Its cucumber gin scooped the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) Silver Award 2016 and Gin Masters Gold in 2019, no less, but the citrus range – featuring the Lemon Grove Gin – is the word on many a caterer’s lips this festive season.
Traditionally crafted, the Lemon Grove Gin is made using luscious lemons that give a fresh citrus flavour that perfectly complements any premium tonic water – and, of course, our delicious Tarte Au Citron.
Getting Out There
So, what’s next on the agenda for this forward-thinking drink company? “We have a lot of work to do,” says Graham, who admits the brand has plenty of new flavours up its sleeve. “In the next two to three years, we’ll be getting out there with the products a little more, rather than just developing them.
So, just what is it that’s sparked the public’s imagination for gin in more recent times? “The introduction of craft gin and the arrival of the smaller craft gin makers.” says Graham. “People can now manufacturer smaller amounts – and suddenly, people realised that the taste of gin could be on another level. It’s for this reason that it became more approachable and easier to drink.”
Tonic water has improved too, says Graham. “Fever-tree created an entire new category, with its flavoured tonic waters. Before, gin just didn’t appeal to younger people, but now it’s much more interesting and appealing.
A Refreshing Drink
While new trends in alcoholic drinks may be making their mark on the industry, the gin market simply isn’t stalling, says Graham. “People are being converted to gin all the time,” he says, “and it’s because it’s refreshing.” It really is as simple as that.
Do you cater to gin drinkers? Or have you considered overhauling your desserts menu and adding our Fairway Excellence gin-infused Tarte Au Citron to it? There has never been a better time than now to jump on the gin bandwagon, after all.
To be considered for the Excellence collection, a product must be outstanding in terms of flavour and ingredients, innovative and inspiring to caterers. Products go through additional benchmarking with fine-tuning until it is just right.