Ramsbury's sustainable spirits
Crafted on the Ramsbury Estate
If you look closely at our gracefully curved bottles, you’ll find a subtle but intriguing detail…some map coordinates on the label. These reveal the location of the very field which produced the grain that went into making that individual bottle you are enjoying.
These stylish touches encapsulate the field-to-glass philosophy that we at Ramsbury practice, whilst producing delicious, award-winning spirits. Unlike most gin and vodka makers, we produce our single estate spirits entirely on our 19,000-acre Wiltshire estate in the beautiful, rolling North Wessex Downs.
Ramsbury’s farming team sow and grow 100 per cent of the wheat themselves. We use water sourced from the estate to create our spirits with state-of-the art technology in our own distillery, adding botanicals to give the gin its distinctive flavour – among them is homegrown quince.
And in a world where paying attention to the environment is crucial, traceability and sustainability are at the heart of the operation, with waste products reused on the estate in an impressive closed loop system.
Read on to find out how we are not just masters of distilling, but also custodians of the land…
Sustainability is always at the heart of the process. Fallen trees from the estate are used in the biomass boiler that heats the stills, while wastewater from the distilling process is funnelled back to Ramsbury’s lake using reed beds for natural filtration, helping wildlife to flourish.
The team behind Ramsbury Single Estate Gin and Vodka see themselves not just as producers of quality spirits, but as custodians of the land, driven by the motto “grow everything, waste nothing”.
Growing the wheat
Production of our single estate gin and vodka begins with specially selected Winter wheat grown on our own land, which will in turn become the grain used to make the spirits. “Because we use all our own products in the production process, we are able to produce very high quality, smooth vodka and gin using our carefully selected wheat and very pure chalk-filtered water,” explains group manager Alistair Ewing. The wheat, grown on land fertilised using manure from the estate’s own cattle, is carefully harvested by the farmers on the ideal day destined to produce the finest end product.
Milling the grain
Once harvested, the grain from the wheat is placed in ten-tonne silos, then goes into the estate’s milling shed, which is right next to the on-site distillery. Here it is hammer milled into a grist, or rough flour.
Next the flour goes into the 3000-litre mash tun where it is mixed with water. Signalling the vision of sustainability behind Ramsbury Single Estate Spirits, the water used throughout the process is sourced from an ancient aquifer 195 metres down. This is purified through UV filtration.
It’s then step-heated from 52 degrees Celsius to 62 degrees Celsius in order to break down the starch and convert it into sugars for the distilling process.
Once the starch conversion to sugar is finished the mash is cooled down to about 30 degrees. Yeast is added and then it goes into 7000-litre fermentation vessels. The yeast starts working on the sugar and turns it into alcohol, which takes about three to five days.
The 'beer stripper'
The mash is now ready for the first part of the distilling process. It goes into the top of the beer stripper, which separates the alcohol from the water by heating it to 103 degrees. The “low wine” alcohol produced, which is 80 to 85 per cent ABV, evaporates off and is collected in a condenser. This whole process takes about seven to eight hours. Meanwhile the water and solid travel down the column but not a bit of this is wasted: high in protein, it will eventually be used to feed the estate’s highland cattle – meat from which appears on the menu at Ramsbury’s own pub and restaurant, The Bell, in Ramsbury village.
The Pot still
The low wine is diluted to 35 per cent using water from the estate’s 195 metre-deep borehole, and then heated again in the pot still where the alcohol will evaporate.
The Rectification Column
The 1,600-litre pot still is connected to the rectification column and the alcohol vapour rises up in two towers. The column has 43 copper distillation plates, which have a role in helping remove undesirable compounds. It will stay in here for around eight hours to be distilled into stronger alcohol. Finally, it will go through a stainless steel demethylising tower to remove any impurities left behind to produce a 96 per cent ABV base alcohol – this is the natural grain spirit used in Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka and Gin. And it is at this point that production for the vodka and gin separates.
Adding the botanicals
To make Ramsbury Single Estate Gin, fourteen botanicals are now added to the spirit to give the drink its unique flavour. These must first be steeped in the base spirit for 12 hours. Classic juniper, coriander, angelica root, orris root, cardamom, hops, bitter almond, liquorice, cinnamon, grains of paradise, orange, lemon and grapefruit. Most important of all is the fresh quince, which is picked from the estate’s own orchard. This completes a blend of botanicals that serves up a modern twist on a classic London dry gin.
The fresh quince…
The quince, sourced from the estate, adds something rather special to Ramsbury Single Estate Gin according to global brand ambassador Mikul Kalyan: “This unique botanical in our drink is grown on our estate right next to the distillery, which is why we can add it fresh. Quince has a long history within Britain, with cultivation dating back to 1275; all the more reason to use quince in Ramsbury Single Estate Gin, due to its distinctive aroma and taste, as well as the history it holds.When added to the gin quince provides a delightful surprise, with an aromatic kind of flavour. It helps give our gin hint of sweetness and a floral aroma that is fantastic on the palate.”
Gin distilling and bottling
The mixture is now re-distilled in a 450-litre gin still giving an 80 per cent gin concentrate. This is then blended to 40 per cent using water from the estate.
Once the production process is complete, the gin and vodka are bottled using recyclable glass and labelled on site. From milling to bottling takes around 12 days of expert craft and care.