Anno Distillers

Posted: 13/07/2017 12:24:11

The Interview



  1. Hi there Anno thanks for taking the time to talk to us! So for those who don’t know can you tell us a little about Anno Distillers do?


Here at Anno Distillers, we blend science and nature to create wonderful craft spirits. We were the first micro distillery in Kent for 200 years, since the Maidstone Distillery closed back in the 1800’s. We have taken our inspiration from the magnificent ‘Garden of England’, using local botanicals to create amazingly smooth spirits. Our range currently includes 5 products, our signature Kent Dry Gin, and our over-proof 602,a classic Sloe Gin, summery Elderflower & Vodka and our seasonal Cranberry & Gin. These are all available in 70cl and 5cl bottles.


  1. Having a quick look at your website I loved the idea of the two founders of the company packing in their jobs as scientists to pursue their passion for craft spirits! Can you tell us a little more about how and why you went about starting this “journey of a lifetime”?


       The distillery founders, Andy Reason & Norman Lewis are lifelong scientists from the pharmaceutical industry. As part of a global rationalisation programme, their Research & Development site was closed at the end of 2010 and so, they decided to take this as an opportunity and follow their passion for spirits and formed Anno Distillers in August 2011. Kim, Andy’s daughter and another scientist, but with an additional Masters in Business, joined the team and development work started on the creation of Anno Distillers. In 2013 we sold the first bottle of Anno Kent Dry Gin. We have always had a passion for high quality spirits. Originally the idea of whisky was floated, but with Norman being lover of gin from the outset (and he still is!), we turned our attention towards producing a high quality gin. From Inception to production, it took about 18 months of hard experimentation to produce our first batch ready for sale. We are self-confessed perfectionists, so we took our time developing the recipe.


  1. We at the market square group love a gin every now and then, especially Anno’s! How do you go about making it and what makes Anno different to the rest that are out there?


All gin in basically vodka flavoured with juniper berries. What makes each gin distinguishable is the mix of botanicals added. Our carefully curated mix of botanicals has been inspired by our surroundings, The Garden of England. We use 16 botanicals in total; Kentish hops, samphire from the Romney Marsh, Lavender from the National Collection at Downderry Nursey, Rosehips and Camomile, as well as traditional botanicals such as bitter Orange and Orris Root.


The actual distillation takes place in our beautiful, copper pot-still, Patience, overseen by our production team Mike and Jake. We start by filling our 300 litre still, Patience, with Neutral Grain Spirit, made from English wheat.  The hard botanicals (roots, berries and barks) are then added, warmed and stirred overnight. The next day the delicate (floral) botanicals are placed into the botanicals basket (for vapour infusion) and the distillation begins. The heart cut - which is about 90% abv - is then collected (the heads and tails discarded) from the distillation. The gin concentrate is then diluted with reverse osmosis purified water to bring the strength to 43% abv. After resting for 24 hours the gin blend is ready for bottling.


  1. You’ve won a whole heap of awards for a variety of your products, but which one is your favourite?


The best part about our range is there is something for everyone. Founders Andy and Norman love our woody Anno 602 Gin, while other members of the team favour our more aromatic Kent Dry Gin. Jake, our production apprentice loves our Anno Sloe gin and Jemima, our Admin & Marketing assistant’s favourite is our sweet Elderflower & Vodka.


  1. The tour of your distillery in Marden sounds awesome, if people want to come, how do they arrange it and what’s on offer?


It is a really fun evening. We have two options, the Distillery Tour and the Distillery Tour with Tutored Tasting. The evening includes a welcome drink, an Anno Ultimate Gin & Tonic before you’re taken round the distillery and talked through the Anno journey. If you’ve chosen the Tour option with Tutored Tasting you will then be taken up to our tasting room where you will conduct a blind taste test of 5 different gins. At the end of the evening you have the opportunity to try the whole Anno range.  You can buy vouchers or book dates on our website. We also offer bespoke tours for parties of 10 or more people, please contact the distillery directly to enquire on 01622 833278.


  1. What does the future hold for Anno? Any new products on the horizon?


As scientists, we’re constantly experimenting and developing new ideas. We do plan on increasing our range of gins and vodkas in the future, but no decisions have been made yet. Our most exciting new product is currently sat in a barrel, aging. A few years ago we created what will become Kent’s First Whisky in collaboration with Westerham Brewing Company. We hope to release this next year.


  1. Have we missed anything out?


Ginthusiasts can follow the adventures of Anno on twitter and Instagram, @annodistillers!

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