Chapel Down launches grape-based gin and vodka

English winery Chapel Down has made its first move into the gin and vodka category with the launch of two expressions produced using grapes from its 2016 harvest.

The limited-edition range, called ‘The Spirit of Chapel Down’, includes a gin made from distilled Bacchus grapes, and a vodka, produced using Chardonnay grapes.

The Kentish winery stated in its release that “each spirit has been developed to reflect the delicate flavour profile of the wine varietal”.

Both spirits are packed in 70cl, custom-made glass bottles designed to represent both distilling and winemaking. The bottom half of the bottle is finished in clear cut-glass while the top half is frosted and “denotes the classic shape of a wine bottle”.

The Bacchus Gin 2016 (41.2% ABV) is priced £35 and is infused with juniper, coriander, elderflower, orris root, angelica, lavender, orange peel and lemon. It is described as a “highly aromatic gin with heady aromas of citrus fruit and a herbal finish”.

Bacchus, which is often likened to Sauvignon Blanc, was bred in Germany but has gained prominence in England, where it was first planted in 1973.

The Chardonnay vodka (40% ABV) is priced at £32 and is described as “expressive” with “delicate citrus and floral aromas leading to a smooth, creamy palate”.

Josh Donaghay-Spire, head winemaker, commented: “We wanted to create the perfect aromatic gin from our distilled Bacchus grapes. With delicate aromas of citrus peel, juniper and freshly cut grass it makes the perfect, refreshing English gin and tonic”.

Both the gin and the vodka will be available for a four-month period of exclusivity at Majestic Wines and online via Chapel Down’s website. They will also be served at London cocktail bar group Mr Fogg’s various sites including Mr Fogg’s Residence, Mr Fogg’s Tavern and Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour.

Mark Harvey, Chapel Down managing director, commented: ”We see a significant opportunity ahead in super-premium spirits for Chapel Down. We have chosen to develop products with a simplicity of style that we think will cut-through the competing noise in these high-growth segments. Our winemaker has developed products that faithfully reflect the balance and refreshing taste profile of the grape varietals from which they are made.”

“These products are then packaged in an elegant custom-made, cut-glass design. After two years in development we are now excited to share these new spirits with the growing congregation of Chapel Down fans!”

Chapel Down made its first foray into spirits with the release of a 23-year-old English grape brandy last year, priced at £150 a bottle. The brandy was crafted from Seyval Blanc grapes from the 1991 vintage at Lamberhurst Estate in Kent and was subsequently aged for 23 years in French oak.

The English winery is also strengthening its position in the beer and cider sector with its brand Curious Drinks, founded in 2011. It completed its payment for a 1.6 acre site in Ashford earlier this month which will house the new Curious Drinks brewery and increase its brewing capacity.

Chapel Down is not the first English winery to launch a gin. Bolney Wine Estate in West Sussex launched a new business making gin from the by-products of its winemaking production called Foxhole in 2016. Although run as a separate entity from the winery, headed up by Plumpton graduate James Oag-Cooper, it works closely with the wine team while Bolney’s managing director and head winemaker, Sam Linter and her husband Graham sit on its board of directors.

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