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  • Writer's pictureSarah Curtis

A St George's Day celebration of our suppliers and partners

Updated: May 5, 2020

"Oh to be in England now that April’s there..." - Robert Browning

The team at English Spirit are meeting the continual flow of orders coming into the distillery for which we’d like to thank you. We’re also producing and bottling for our numerous contract clients (who are equally as busy). Plus so far we have produced over 120,000 litres of denatured alcohol for sanitiser manufacturers to meet the demand for hand sanitiser across the UK. Despite this busy and challenging period, we’re finding we’ve got a little bit more time to appreciate England in the Springtime. Hopefully you are the same. English poet Robert Browning mentioned in his 1845 poem ‘Home Thoughts from Abroad’ the blossom, birdsong and the trees bursting into leaf. If you can get outside either in the garden or out for a walk, then it’s worth taking a look and a listen to these simple pleasures.

Not only is it an especially beautiful Spring, it is also St George’s Day. The team planned to write a little celebration of our very English connections to coincide with this Patron Saint of England’s Day. We planned for the article back in January. Way back when Coronavirus was only just making the headlines, and even then it was something happening in other places. Who would have known I’d be typing from my makeshift home office in between home schooling and Zoom meetings!

We’d like this article to pack even more of a punch as it truly is a massive ‘Hurrah!’ for those companies that supply us so that we can supply you! Supporting the right businesses will help the local and wider economy get back on its feet more quickly. If you haven’t heard of our suppliers, then it might be because they do a lot of behind the scenes work, but have a read and check them out as they are top quality companies based in England that we are proud to work with.

East Anglian sugar beet
East Anglian sugar beet

Vital Ingredients

As one of a handful of artisan distilleries in England that make spirit from scratch, a good place to start our celebration is with the humble English sugar beet. Some don’t even realise what it is on first sight. It's muddy, lumpen form, often being mistaken for oversized potatoes. Refined sugar beet constitutes over 50% of the UK’s demand for sugar, and the UK sugar industry supports around 9500 jobs. Our Master Distiller, Dr John Walters found during his research that distilling sugar beet produces a smooth creamy spirit, which is why this local ingredient is a key one for us. If you haven’t tried our new Seax Vodka yet, this drink will give you the full benefit of our signature smoothness and small batch distilling practices.

Maldon Sea Salt
World famous, local sea salt from Essex

To turn our super smooth vodka into our Dr J’s Gin, we need juniper berries. Beacon Commodities are a family business based in Suffolk. They source wild berries from across Europe. There’s some really interesting information about the processes on their website and you’ll see why we use them for juniper and some other delicious ingredients.

One of our very popular ‘Special Editions’ has been our Salted Caramel Liqueur. Where better to get our salt from than Maldon Salt? First established in 1882, The Osbourne family have been producing Salt from the coastal town of Maldon for a century and they even have a Royal Warrant after The Queen visited in 2010. Again their website makes for an interesting read.

Finding the Best Fruits

We couldn’t distil our fresh fruit liqueurs without sourcing some of the finest fruit to go in our stills. Luckily for us DC Williamson is nearby. This family business has the expertise and attention to detail to supply simply the best soft fruits to major brands right through to artisan jam makers. Their blackcurrants are the best for miles around when we make our Blackcurrant Liqueur, and their plums can be regularly found in our Plum Gin Liqueur. They do supply to farm shops in smaller batches to make it easier for you to enjoy their products. You should also check out their fruit juice line, Barn Farm Drinks. They have a gorgeous range of 100% pressed fruit juices. As a distillery we obviously want you to drink more of our drinks but if you do want to go for something softer then you really need to taste these.

Cammas Hall fruit farm
Cammas Hall fruit farm

Cammas Hall Fruit Farm also supply us with fruit (as we do need a lot so you get the maximum flavours from our products). Another family business, just on the Herts/Essex border. We have used their gooseberries for an eau de vie and strawberries for other liqueurs. You can buy their lovely fruits in their on site farm shop and even better, some of our products are on the shelves too!

We’re proud to work with Susie Van Der Gaag, a fruit grower based in Kent. As well as different fruits for English Spirit, she also supplies the strawberries for Wimbledon. Unfortunately the event has been cancelled so if you see an abundance of strawberries around in a few weeks time it might be because they’re not needed in London. Make sure you add some to your shopping list as it would be a shame to let these gorgeous english berries go to waste.

Then there’s the continuation of the chain as lots of English companies buy our products to use as ingredients for their creations. Take a look at Cupcake Daisy for delicious bakes and confectionery, some of which use our liqueurs. Saffron Ice Cream Company use our Old Salt Rum for their Rum and Raisin ice-cream (the weather is perfect and so are their tubs).

Old Salt Rum & Raisin ice cream
Old Salt Rum & Raisin ice cream from the Saffron Ice Cream Company

We’re not encouraging you to sit and eat and drink all the time, but there’s only so much Joe Wicks one can do in a day! What you could do though is click on all the links below for the companies we’ve mentioned and maybe others that are local to you. Both our sites in Essex and Cornwall are surrounded by amazing UK producers, including vineyards, bakeries and meat and dairy products. All these businesses, like ourselves, have adapted to the current situation.

We’re not saints (we’ll leave that title to the NHS and frontline workers) but we’re working hard and are genuinely thrilled when the orders come in: we're glad that we can still supply our customers with some English Spirit to see them through these strange times.

If you’d like to know more about any of our products, suppliers or processes then do get in touch. In the meantime we wish you a Happy St George’s Day and we look forward to St George’s Day 2021 being a full on celebration with all English and UK businesses booming.

Sarah is an English Spirit Ambassador, Distillery Tour Guide and Marketing co-ordinator, based near Great Yeldham in Essex.

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