Ryebeck Ltd

Ryebeck Ltd,John Eccles House Oxford Science Park, Oxford, OX4 4GP
+44 (0) 800 689 3216 $0 $0
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The origins of Henstone Distillery

The origins of Henstone Distillery

Chris Toller, director and co-founder of Oswestry-based Henstone Distillery, spent over 40 years in telecommunications and IT, travelling within Europe and the Middle East.  Returning to the UK in 2015, he eventually decided with his wife Alex and long-time friends Shane and Alison Parr, co-owners of Stonehouse Brewery, to set up a distillery in the brewery premises in order to make whisky and apple brandy.

Researching stills

After weeks of planning, Chris and Shane contacted several suppliers of stills, many of whom felt that their business operation was “too small to consider”, as Chris recalls.  “Then a friend told me that he’d found some second-hand stills on the internet and when we looked into these, we saw that they were supplied by Ryebeck.”

Initial contact with Ryebeck

Following several telephone conversations, Ryebeck’s Managing Director Tim Prime visited them and described the benefits of choosing a Kothe still for which Ryebeck was the sole UK distributor.  He then arranged a visit to a small local distillery that used a 100L Kothe still, which gave Chris and Shane a useful insight into what lay ahead.

Visit to Germany

In January 2017, Tim and the Henstone team visited the Kothe plant in Stuttgart and while there, they tasted both the whisky and also the gin that company head Ulrich Kothe made and stored in his private facility.  Having at first felt they had “missed the boat” with the gin revolution and so would concentrate on whisky, they were so impressed by the quality of Ulrich’s gin made in his Kothe still, that they decided to produce that spirit too.

Benefits of choosing Ryebeck

  • Professional attitude
  • Expert knowledge
  • Accuracy
  • Approachability
  • Helpful and supportive
  • Personalised Service
  • Price

Chris recalls how Tim’s expert advice led them to make a much more informed decision to choose a larger still than they had previously considered.  “Originally we were looking at 400L-500L stills, but Tim explained that if we doubled the size, this may not necessarily double the price and would also futureproof our production capacity.  Following further discussions with Ryebeck, we carefully went through the design specification that best suited us.   With Shane’s brewing experience and Ryebeck’s expert advice and excellent, accurate drawings based on the dimensions of our footprint, we agreed in February 2017 to purchase a custom-built Kothe K1200N 1000L pot still.”

The Ryebeck experience

Throughout the process, Chris was impressed by Tim’s approach and knowledge and contrasts this with other companies he had contacted.  “The service we received was iterative and attentive.  Tim was there linking to the people in Germany and getting answers when we needed them.  Our experience with some other companies was like hitting a brick wall, while Ryebeck was always very professional, approachable, supportive and helpful.”

Once Henstone had agreed the order with Ryebeck, they applied for a grant from the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development, which they eventually received in September 2017.  Under the rules, they were unable to formally place the order or make any payments towards equipment until the whole grant application had been approved.  Chris is very appreciative of Ryebeck’s attitude during this lengthy process: “Tim remained wholly supportive despite the half year delay in payment.  It’s not easy buying stills in the UK and Ryebeck’s supportive, personalised service and also the price points they quoted were the main factors that secured the deal for me.”

Features of the still

Henstone required a still with enough flexibility to allow multiple distillations of different spirits and the design of the Kothe K1200N is perfect for them.  “The functionality is great”, explains Chris, “particularly the CIP-Cleaning system.  We have already made three distinctly different spirits with no indication of cross-contamination.  If the same spirit is being distilled, we can use the hot water left over at the end of one distillation to wash through and clean the inside of the still several times in under five minutes.  Otherwise, if we use chemicals between different spirit distillations, the whole process only takes between one and a half and two hours.”

Chris is extremely impressed by both the engineering quality and aesthetics of the Kothe still: “It’s superbly constructed and visually it looks stunning.  We even have visitors commenting on the quality of the copper-to-stainless steel welding!”

The Henstone vision

Henstone’s Principles

  • Fun
  • Quality
  • Commerciality
  • Local

With the Kothe K1200N allowing Henstone to distil a range of different spirits, Chris has a very clear vision for his company.  “We have an opportunity to grow a successful business that perhaps our family will get involved with one day, or at least we can do our best so that the name lives on!”

His corporate background has inspired him to embrace four key values for the company:-

  • Fun: “we must enjoy what we’re doing.”
  • Quality: “nothing goes out of the distillery that we don’t like or aren’t proud of ourselves.”
  • Commercial viability: “we have to make some money, so cannot treat the business completely as a hobby.”
  • Local employment: “we would like to create a local employment hub, putting something back into community.”

Future plans

The ongoing relationship between Ryebeck and Henstone remains of great importance to Chris, as plans to produce other spirits are currently under discussion.  “Working with Ryebeck has been a great experience and we’ve not had any reservations throughout the process about whether we’d chosen the right supplier”, says Chris.  “Moreover, Tim has a great network of contacts, so whenever we need advice, he is our first port of call and always points us in the right direction.”

2019-03-16

The origins of Henstone Distillery

The origins of Henstone Distillery

Chris Toller, director and co-founder of Oswestry-based Henstone Distillery, spent over 40 years in telecommunications and IT, travelling within Europe and the Middle East.  Returning to the UK in 2015, he eventually decided with his wife Alex and long-time friends Shane and Alison Parr, co-owners of Stonehouse Brewery, to set up a distillery in the brewery premises in order to make whisky and apple brandy.

Researching stills

After weeks of planning, Chris and Shane contacted several suppliers of stills, many of whom felt that their business operation was “too small to consider”, as Chris recalls.  “Then a friend told me that he’d found some second-hand stills on the internet and when we looked into these, we saw that they were supplied by Ryebeck.”

Initial contact with Ryebeck

Following several telephone conversations, Ryebeck’s Managing Director Tim Prime visited them and described the benefits of choosing a Kothe still for which Ryebeck was the sole UK distributor.  He then arranged a visit to a small local distillery that used a 100L Kothe still, which gave Chris and Shane a useful insight into what lay ahead.

Visit to Germany

In January 2017, Tim and the Henstone team visited the Kothe plant in Stuttgart and while there, they tasted both the whisky and also the gin that company head Ulrich Kothe made and stored in his private facility.  Having at first felt they had “missed the boat” with the gin revolution and so would concentrate on whisky, they were so impressed by the quality of Ulrich’s gin made in his Kothe still, that they decided to produce that spirit too.

Benefits of choosing Ryebeck

  • Professional attitude
  • Expert knowledge
  • Accuracy
  • Approachability
  • Helpful and supportive
  • Personalised Service
  • Price

Chris recalls how Tim’s expert advice led them to make a much more informed decision to choose a larger still than they had previously considered.  “Originally we were looking at 400L-500L stills, but Tim explained that if we doubled the size, this may not necessarily double the price and would also futureproof our production capacity.  Following further discussions with Ryebeck, we carefully went through the design specification that best suited us.   With Shane’s brewing experience and Ryebeck’s expert advice and excellent, accurate drawings based on the dimensions of our footprint, we agreed in February 2017 to purchase a custom-built Kothe K1200N 1000L pot still.”

The Ryebeck experience

Throughout the process, Chris was impressed by Tim’s approach and knowledge and contrasts this with other companies he had contacted.  “The service we received was iterative and attentive.  Tim was there linking to the people in Germany and getting answers when we needed them.  Our experience with some other companies was like hitting a brick wall, while Ryebeck was always very professional, approachable, supportive and helpful.”

Once Henstone had agreed the order with Ryebeck, they applied for a grant from the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development, which they eventually received in September 2017.  Under the rules, they were unable to formally place the order or make any payments towards equipment until the whole grant application had been approved.  Chris is very appreciative of Ryebeck’s attitude during this lengthy process: “Tim remained wholly supportive despite the half year delay in payment.  It’s not easy buying stills in the UK and Ryebeck’s supportive, personalised service and also the price points they quoted were the main factors that secured the deal for me.”

Features of the still

Henstone required a still with enough flexibility to allow multiple distillations of different spirits and the design of the Kothe K1200N is perfect for them.  “The functionality is great”, explains Chris, “particularly the CIP-Cleaning system.  We have already made three distinctly different spirits with no indication of cross-contamination.  If the same spirit is being distilled, we can use the hot water left over at the end of one distillation to wash through and clean the inside of the still several times in under five minutes.  Otherwise, if we use chemicals between different spirit distillations, the whole process only takes between one and a half and two hours.”

Chris is extremely impressed by both the engineering quality and aesthetics of the Kothe still: “It’s superbly constructed and visually it looks stunning.  We even have visitors commenting on the quality of the copper-to-stainless steel welding!”

The Henstone vision

Henstone’s Principles

  • Fun
  • Quality
  • Commerciality
  • Local

With the Kothe K1200N allowing Henstone to distil a range of different spirits, Chris has a very clear vision for his company.  “We have an opportunity to grow a successful business that perhaps our family will get involved with one day, or at least we can do our best so that the name lives on!”

His corporate background has inspired him to embrace four key values for the company:-

  • Fun: “we must enjoy what we’re doing.”
  • Quality: “nothing goes out of the distillery that we don’t like or aren’t proud of ourselves.”
  • Commercial viability: “we have to make some money, so cannot treat the business completely as a hobby.”
  • Local employment: “we would like to create a local employment hub, putting something back into community.”

Future plans

The ongoing relationship between Ryebeck and Henstone remains of great importance to Chris, as plans to produce other spirits are currently under discussion.  “Working with Ryebeck has been a great experience and we’ve not had any reservations throughout the process about whether we’d chosen the right supplier”, says Chris.  “Moreover, Tim has a great network of contacts, so whenever we need advice, he is our first port of call and always points us in the right direction.”

2019-03-16
Henstone bottle near lake

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