Eleven English and Welsh wineries that make their own spirits and vermouth

Chapel Down

Headquartered in Kent, Chapel Down has transformed itself over the years from solely a wine producer into a company that makes a wide range of English drinks, from gin and vodka to beer and cider.

Reflecting its winemaking origins in its branding, it launched a gin and vodka, made with grape distillate, in 2017. Packaged in custom-made glass bottles, Chapel Down aimed to represent both distilling and winemaking, with the bottom half of the bottle finished in clear, cut-glass while the top is frosted and in the shape of a classic wine bottle.

The gin, made from Bacchus grape distillate, is priced £35 and is infused with juniper, coriander, elderflower, orris root, angelica, lavender, orange peel and lemon. The vodka, meanwhile, is made with Chardonnay grape distillate, and is described as “expressive” with “delicate citrus and floral aromas leading to a smooth, creamy palate”.

Both are grain spirits, with the grape element used as a sort of botanical.

In March last year, Chapel Down launched a third variant – a pink gin made with Pinot Noir distillate. This was followed by a RTD launch, comprising a canned Gin and Tonic, in May. 

The final spirit in the company’s range is its Lamberhurst brandy, made from Sevyal Blanc grapes grown in the Lamberhurst Estate. The spirit was distilled in 1992 by Julian Temperley in Somerset before being matured in French oak barrels for 23 years. Only 2,000 bottles were ever made, with each one now commanding a £150 price tag.

Last year, the English drinks company also opened its bar, distillery and restaurant in London’s Kings Cross called the Gin Works.

Currently, the producer works with contract distillers, with the distillery at Gin Works used to produce small batch products. Mark Harvey, managing director of wines and spirits at Chapel Down, told the drinks business back in October that the site would also be used to produce custom gins for the bars and restaurants with whom Chapel Down works.

Given that Chapel Down has opened its own brewery in Ashford, it is possible that it could bring its entire spirit production in house in the future.

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