AD – This blog post is part of a paid partnership with Silverstone Distillery. For more information on how I work with local businesses, read my disclaimer here.
I’ve got a cracking way for you to spend a Saturday in Northamptonshire and it involves making your own gin! Keep reading for a discount code too!
Ever fancied becoming a master distiller for the day? Introducing Gin School at Silverstone Distillery!
If you know already, I love gin (I even have a guide on Northamptonshire gin!) – it’s one of my favourite beverages to drink in the evenings, but apart from the obvious that gin is made from juniper berries, I didn’t know too much about what REALLY goes into the distilling process of making gin.
That is until I attended a gin school at Silverstone Distillery!
I have never taken part in such experience before, but what made it much more unique was that it was right on my doorstep (a 10 minute drive – easy peasy) and I was actually going to learn what goes into the making of their Silverstone Heritage Oak Rested Gin which is distilled right here in Northamptonshire…
AND we had the chance to make our own!
Josh and I headed down to the distillery on a Saturday to take part in a truly unique experience that we were both very excited about. I had nothing else to compare it to as it was one of the first gin school’s Silverstone Distillery hosted due to the pandemic pushing them back.
So I’m going to give you the full exclusive rundown…
About Silverstone Distillery
Silverstone Distillery is the village’s first and only distillery which launched back in October 2020, just after the first lockdown and little did they know we were about to head into a second!
Despite all this, Silverstone Distillery has gone from strength to strength and proved that a small business can thrive during uncertain times (they already have a number of awards under their belt!)
Founded by owner and MD, Steve Hancock, who you may know locally if you’re based in Silverstone as the owner of the White Horse Pub wanted to bring a distillery to the village that celebrated both the F1 motorsport industry which Silverstone is well known for hosting, as well as it’s rich heritage that’s traced back thousands of years through the taste of spirits.
Together with his close-knit team, they have established a distillery in the heart of the village that strives to create high-quality spirits like their Heritage Oak Rested Gin, to their Heritage Smoked Wild Apple Vodka, that harbours the same community-led work spirit that the ancestors of Silverstone village possessed hundreds of years ago.
I had the pleasure of visiting the distillery for the first time back in November 2020 and I knew they had created something very special that the locals would enjoy – from hosting events over the Grand Prix weekend, to finally showcasing their calendar of events at long last!
After what felt like ages since Silverstone Distiller first approached me about doing some work with them to showcase their gin school, the day finally arrived…
What can you expect at Gin School
Prior to booking, you are asked to arrive at 11:30am and you will need to block out up to 4 hours to enjoy the experience fully.
As we arrived, we were greeted by our head distiller, Joe Mayhew, who was all smiles as he offered us a welcome G&T (yes, part of your experience includes complimentary G&T’s!)
Then, we sat down in front of a whole concuntion of tools, things to measure with and the small, but impressive Copper still which we would grow to become acquainted with!
Each pairing had their own copper still that’s placed inside a custom-made, portable wooden box; something I have never seen before and thought was very unique as everything was on show, including all the pipes which you could witness constant flows of water running through them.
There’s a reason why Silverstone Distillery has done this…
It’s because it makes them one of the only mobile gin schools, compared to regular gin schools which have plumbed-in stills that don’t move – Silverstone’s copper stills can be moved around the distillery to make the most of their versatile space (and beyond for mobile gin schools… coming soon!)
At first glance, I won’t lie to you, it’s quite overwhelming as I found myself thinking “oh my god, I’m never going to follow this correctly and I’m totally going to do something wrong!” But it couldn’t be further from the truth…
Joe welcomed us along with 3 other couples (the gin school had a nice small group of us and only allows a maximum of 12 guests if you’re worried about big crowds) and he gave us an introduction to Silverstone Distillery, it’s beginnings where they’re heading.
One of the first things he asked us to do (and it’s an important one) is to name our Copper still.
The reason why you’re asked to do this is because 1. It’s fun, but 2 because legally, every copper still has to have a name in order to distill spirits, so Silverstone Distillery’s 300 ltr copper still is called Sebastian!
We named ours Larry.
Then, once we got to know our Copper still and Joe talked through the different items we were going to use, it was time to talk through ingredients so that we could begin choosing our ingredients, blend them and finally distill them.
We were given a taste card that showed all the different ingredients that could be added to distill your own gin, from cinnamon, cardamom, orange peel, to mulled spices and much more!
Who knew there would be so many ingredients you could use in distilling?!
Joe recommended we use their tried and tested recipe if we wanted to stick to something that worked well; however, a few of us in the group were keen to experiment and swap in and out different ingredients to make it our own; including us!
One of the ingredients we swapped out was licorice for vanilla pods as we’ve never seen or heard of vanilla flavoured gin before… so today was the day we’d try it!
Despite my initial fears of whether the process would be really tricky and not easy to follow, Joe made me feel confident with every step and because there was a smaller group of us, he was able to give us all equal attention to ensure we were doing everything correctly.
We were able to get up and pick up the ingredients ourselves from their eye-catching display and we were guided through the whole process of measuring the ingredients, popping them into a netted bag and placing it inside the copper still for the 70% alcohol to be poured over – which is the best way for everything to distill properly.
Afterwards, we waited for our copper to heat up and begin the distilling process which consisted of the gin dripping out into our measuring jug as we had to wait until it reached 500ml before we began the next process.
As you can imagine, this did take a few hours – but luckily, Silverstone Distillery has thought of everything to ensure these gin schools were relaxed, fun and educational without feeling like we were just waiting around…
As part of the experience, we received a lovely spread box of food, made by the White Horse Pub, which we shared in our pairs and was full of delicious, healthy and picky treats!
It was a great way to pass the time whilst we waited for our spirit to distill – we even had an informative Q&A session with Joe where he answered some of our burning questions, as well as chatted about our favourite films and movies!
Once our spirit hit the goal mark of 500ml, it was time to bottle and label our gin!
From a few simple steps of measuring 100ml of spirit and mixing it with water, to finding out it’s ABV level, we were also given our own label to put our names and the name of our gin on, we finally had our finished product to take home!
A sense of accomplishment came across us; we just learnt how to distill our own gin and now we could take it home to enjoy! It was a very proud moment and really makes the whole experience worthwhile!
My thoughts on the experience
As mentioned before, I went in blind as to what I was going to expect; but the whole experience didn’t disappoint!
I thought the whole day was very well thought out, from arrival to learning about the distilling process, production and a behind the scenes on all the botanicals, to a Q&A with Joe the master distiller, our platter of food we nibbled on to actually making and owning a bottle of gin that we made ourselves!
It didn’t feel rushed, which experiences that are rushed usually leave me feeling exhausted afterward – instead, it was very laid back, educational and I preferred the smaller group setting as we all got talking to each other and asking more and more questions about Silverstone Distillery, meaning I felt like I came away with a much better appreciation and understanding of the business and gin-making!
Plus, all gin school guests receive a 10% discount on products in the distillery and you get to take home your snazzy Silverstone branded notepad and pen (which was used for lots of note-taking!)
The whole experience is run on a Saturday and is £85 for one person and £125 for two people – each experience lasts up to 4 hours and bookings allow a maximum of 12 guests (unless you want a private booking).
As an extra treat for you (since you got to the bottom of this blog post) the lovely folk at Silverstone Distillery have given me a discount code to give to you readers. Just use NNGIN to claim 15% off your booking!
Would you take part in a Gin School at Silverstone Distillery?
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Thank you for reading this blog post. This is a paid partnership with Silverstone Distiller and all my thoughts and opinions are my own. When you read and see the content I create, you are also supporting a local business too. Find out how you can work with me here.