Cornish gin boom shows Celts are about more than just whisky

Celts Enjoy more than just Whisky

Think of Celtic spirits (the liquid ones, not the ghosts of our ancestors) and it’s a fair bet that whisky is the first that comes to mind. But in Cornwall, gin is the tipple that’s capturing the headlines at the moment.

Cornish Gin - Celtic Link

Gin sales are booming in the UK as a whole. Once derided as ‘mother’s’ ruin’, 73 million bottles of gin were sold across the nation in 2018, worth more than £2bn. That’s double the level of just two years earlier. There’s a particular explosion in the popularity of craft gin, small batch special blends often produced using locally sourced ingredients, and here Cornwall is at the forefront.

More than 15 Cornish gin distillers

There are now more than 15 Cornish gin distillers, and while some, like Trevethan (http://www.trevethandistillery.com/) have been in business for almost 100 years, new producers appear to be setting up on an almost monthly basis. What’s more, some of the newcomers have made quite an impact in a short space of time.

Wadebridge based Tarquins (https://www.tarquinsgin.com/ ) may have only sold their first bottle less than six year ago, but by 2017 the company’s SeaDog Navy Strength Gin had been named ‘World’s Best Gin’ at the World Spirits Competition in San Francisco. They are also at the forefront of the push to take Cornish gin to the world, exporting to more than a dozen countries (and to all parts of the UK as well, of course!).

Locally sourced ingredients are a key reason that Cornish gins are making such an impact in an overcrowded drinks market. Producers are making their own alcohol base, using local water and foraging for local produce to create some unique concoctions. Based near Mullion on the Lizard peninsula – the most southerly point in the British Isles – Curio Spirits (https://www.curiospiritscompany.co.uk/ ) blend hand-foraged samphire in their Rock Samphire Gin. Up in the popular north coast holiday resort of Perranporth, Tinkture’s Rose Gin uses organic West Country roses ( https://www.wearetinkture.com/ )

Meanwhile, inspired by one of Cornwall’s most iconic foodstuffs, the Wrecking Coast distillery (https://thewreckingcoastdistillery.com/ ) makes a rich clotted cream gin. And, as if the whole enterprise wasn’t already Cornish enough, the distillery is based in Tintagel, mythical home of King Arthur himself. 

Cornwall’s gin producers have also taken a leaf out of the book of Scottish and Irish whisky/whiskey makers by offering tours and tasting experiences. At Colwith Farm (http://www.colwithfarmdistillery.co.uk/ ) in Fowey, where they make Stafford’s Gin, visitors can see the entire ‘plough to bottle’ process, from preparing the mash to cooking, fermenting, distilling, rectifying, bottling and of course sampling.

Elemental (http://www.cornishgin.co.uk/) from St Columb on the north coast, is raising funds to build Cornwall’s first renewable-powered gin distillery and visitor centre. Demonstrating the importance of small businesses to the local economy, this is expected to create around 12 new, much-needed, full-time jobs.

So there’s just one more reason for Celtic food and drink aficionados to add Cornwall to their list of ‘must-visit’ destinations. Cheers!