Gin School at Gorilla Spirits, Upton Grey, Basingstoke

Gin School

Gorilla Spirits distillery in Upton Grey make award-winning spirits with an amazing ethical conscience and I was truly honoured to attend their gin school. Founded in 2015 by Andy Daniels, Gorilla Sprits has an impressive portfolio including: Silverback Mountain Strength Gin, Silverback Old Tom Gin, Silverback Raspberry Gin, Blackback Mountain Strength and Maraba Coffee Liqueur. It is remarkable that this small business donates £1 from every bottle to The Gorilla Organisation, saving the endangered gorilla population (just 880 in existence!) This is an amazing example of just how well businesses, governance and charities can work together to make a difference. The link with gorillas reflects everything that gin is, ‘strong and gentle’. Whilst Mountain Gorillas are strong and powerful, they are also gentle and very shy. The Silverback will protect his group rather than his territory at any cost. I was completely blown away by the entire experience lead by Kirsty. Her enthusiasm and passion for Gorilla Spirits was truly inspiring.

Silverback Gorilla

At the gin school, Kirsty was extremely knowledgable in helping us create our very own gin. We were provided with our own distill, which were all individually named and I had ‘Hirwa’, meaning ‘the lucky one’. We were also given a chart indicating which botanicals are herbal, floral, wood, fruit, spice or citrus, along with a guide on how much to add and what to pair the botanicals with. It was also a lovely touch to be given a few gin and tonics (Mountain Strength and Old Tom) whilst making our gin and just reflects how relaxed the experience was.

Botanicals

Obviously juniper must be chosen, the other key botanicals include coriander seeds and angelica root. Inspired by my love for a punchy gin with strong flavours, I also added orange blossom, black lime, lemon peel, star anise, bay leaves and blackcurrant leaf. The herbal and floral flavours from the juniper, bay leaf, orange blossom and blackcurrant leaf balance well with the citrus from the lemon and black lime, and the star anise, coriander seeds and angelica root provide spicy and wood tones. These were precisely measured in line with the guide. With a final smell of the combined botanicals, the distillation begins!

Weighing botanicals

The botanicals are added to the base spirit. Once the distill reaches temperature (60 degrees) it must be turned back down. Shortly after, the magic starts to happen… and the gin begins to appear!

Adding the botanicals

Whilst the distillation is well underway, we were shown around the distillery by Andy. He firstly showed us the botanical room which smelt incredible! We were then shown the distill which name translates to ‘she who is content’ and produces an impressive 1000 bottles a day! Andy’s energy and passion is fantastic! The tour was very personal, genuine and transparent, which is a complete contrast to the more larger commercial distilleries out there.

When we returned, we stood around the bar and sampled the spirits neat (plus something extra which is coming soon to Gorilla Spirits!) and also learnt about each spirit.

Spirit sampling at the bar

We then returned to our distills we completed the process by adding the measured amount of water.

Adding water

Finally we added our labels and we had our very own gin! Kirsty also poured out the dregs so that we could sample the flavours. We then enjoyed it as a gin and tonic. Mine is pictured below and garnished with orange peel and orange blossom. Each of our gins were remarkably different and to our own unique palettes.

It truly is one of the best gin experiences I have ever come across. The atmosphere was very chilled and personal. Kirsty and Andy were so approachable, friendly and inspirational. Their brand is bold, powerful and completely unique. It is a day that will stay with me and I can’t wait to enjoy my very own gin at home. I couldn’t leave without a few purchases, so I bought the Old Tom Gin, Raspberry Gin and a gorilla glass. I am excited to see what the future holds for Gorilla Spirits and I will continue to support and purchase their gin for both the outstanding flavours and charitable work. This is an absolute MUST place to visit!!

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