The story of Jarrolds Gin
From oil to gin
A career as a drilling contractor in Iraq with no experience in the drinks industry may not seem the obvious starting point for a spirits distiller. However, for Jamie Jarrold of Jarrolds Gin this has proved a useful background and led to award-wining gins, made at his house in Chichester, West Sussex. “I started as an 18-year old in the drilling industry and worked my way up as a drilling contractor”, he explains. “As I was so used to machinery, industrial mixing systems and processes, operating a still didn’t faze me!”
Beginnings of Jarrolds Gin
After many years of trying different gins in the UK, Jamie and his wife Nichola decided in February 2016 to make a gin that was more flavourful and robust than most of the ones they had sampled. “We looked at the gin in the glass and thought ‘we just can’t taste it'”, he recalls. Having encountered sun-dried Persian limes in food and drink in Iraq, this was the key botanical they decided to use for their London Dry as it adds “an unusual and slightly smoky citrus quality”.
Searching for a still
The couple then searched for a supplier of stills, but this proved far from easy. “We’ve never encountered a more difficult process getting in contact with manufacturers”, Jamie explains. While experiencing a lack of response, they found Ryebeck’s details and, following an initial conversation, Managing Director Tim Prime organised a meeting with Kothe Distilling at the company’s Stuttgart plant in late August 2016.
“It was very difficult to get in contact with manufacturers, so having Tim involved made it so much easier than doing it on my own.“
Ryebeck’s help secures the deal
Jamie describes the importance of Tim’s help: “Still manufacturers are busy and having Tim there to be able to introduce me to the Kothe team and to suggest spending a full day with them was great and smoothed the way. This sold me on the company and also gave me the chance to talk to them about distilling. Kothe gave us good pointers for doing things the best way, including reducing the alcohol content of the spirit down to precisely 29.5% prior to distillation and Ryebeck definitely facilitated that process brilliantly. I had no experience of distilling and having the opportunity to ask questions and talk everything through was crucial. I could have been sold anything at that point, so to have a sensible conversation then was so useful.”
Jamie discussed his machinery requirements in detail with Ryebeck and Kothe. He already knew that he wanted a single-shot traditional pot still, but the advice he received in Germany proved invaluable. This included recommendations on futureproofing the still, how to optimise the quality of the spirit produced plus hints and tips on the installation process itself. He also values the opportunity he had to witness the workmanship involved in constructing the Kothe stills. “It was great to see what you’re buying, especially the quality of craftsmanship.”
“We are very self-taught, but realise that if you don’t know something, speak to someone who does!“
Choosing a Kothe still
For a business venture, the 10L still Jamie and Nichola used in their kitchen to create the unique recipe for their London Dry was clearly not commercially viable. Therefore, with Ryebeck’s guidance, they decided on a Kothe K800 250L pot still which met their “low-key, small scale and price objectives.” Destined to produce no more than 8000 bottles of gin in total this year, Jamie particularly appreciates the fact that Ryebeck remained fully committed to and supportive of the project regardless of its size. “Even though this is the smallest commercially available still, Ryebeck always provided the level of attention and concern required.”
Having paid a deposit in November 2016, the still was delivered in June the following year. After some delays finalising bottle designs, the first gins were released for sale on March 16th 2018. In addition to the London Dry, for which they won an IWSC Silver, they produce a Limited Edition Sloe Gin, an IWSC bronze medal-awarded All Year Round Sloe Gin and are soon to release a Rhubarb Gin.
At 48% ABV and juniper-forward with an unusual smoky citrus quality and spicy character from the botanicals, their London Dry is certainly distinctive with real depth of flavour. “It takes people by surprise largely by strength and because it’s incredibly smooth”, says Jamie. “Even people who don’t drink neat gin regularly love its smoothness and the IWSC Silver backs that up! It’s great for traditional cocktails too, like a Negroni.”
Honesty of the product
Jamie also sees integrity and honesty as defining features of his gin production. “We’re very transparent about what we do. We don’t claim all our ingredients are local, but our gin is made locally. We distil, bottle, label and pack it. Flavours and taste aside, the integrity of the process and fact that we’re doing it ourselves is very important to us. We did much of the work on building the distillery, such as steel erecting and foundation digging. We put a great deal of personal effort into this endeavour and never considered doing it any other way.”
Benefits of the Kothe still
For Jamie, the Kothe K800 offers the functionality he requires to create the gins he wants. It’s straightforward to operate and, as he explains, helps ensure consistency in the final product. “The challenge for a craft distiller is that each run should be the same as before. With this still, it’s easy and we get a consistent product throughout. It’s all down to the electronics with the ability to control the electrical heating elements individually. Also, the thermostatic element in the vapour pipe is linked to a digital display that’s incredibly accurate, showing the exact temperature without us having to rely on analogue gauges. It’s a fantastic looking piece of kit too!”
Future for Jarrolds
Jamie is looking at expanding his business locally and Ryebeck remains fully within his plans. “What we’re doing is not just a hobby. It has to be a bona fide, profit-making business and expansion will allow us to increase the volume we make and give us the opportunity to produce different gins too. We would definitely use Ryebeck again. It’s good to have that relationship already there and I’ve stayed in contact with them since we’ve been open. Even though they are clearly very busy, they are always available to speak to when needed and I can bounce ideas off them.”
Advice for others
Jamie recommends Ryebeck for anyone looking at opening a distillery. “Although it’s good to know as much as possible beforehand what your design requirements are, if you don’t, they’re on hand to steer you completely through that process. It’s been a very good experience and I would thoroughly recommend them.”
If you’re a large or small business looking at producing high quality gin, then Ryebeck can provide you with one of our top German-made distilleries. Please get in touch via our Contact Page and one of our team will be happy to set up an initial meeting.