A QUINTESSENTIALLY ENGLISH GIN…
Using pure spring water from a local private estate and botanicals that are typically found in the English countryside, Little Lane Gin is elegant and earthy, and it’s made in the Ribble Valley!
Tucked away in an old stone outhouse is a micro distillery that is producing some of the best quality craft gin around.
The duo behind this well thought out enterprise are Luke Moyes and Justine Harrison, a young couple who have spent two years researching the best ways to develop a first class gin that breaks the mould in terms of taste.
“It is so smooth that it can be drunk neat over ice,” says Luke. “That is one of the first things people notice about it – the smoothness.”
Under the name of the Ribble Valley Gin Company, their first signature Little Lane Gin has just been launched and can be found online and at Holmes Mill, Bowland Food Hall and D Byrne and Co in Clitheroe.
The gin features botanicals that can all be found in the English countryside resulting in an earthy smooth flavour that really sets it apart from other craft gins.
When Luke and Justine began their research into making their own gin they discovered there was very little information, as Luke explains: “There is not a lot of information out there on how to make a craft gin. It’s surprisingly secretive, it’s like the Magic Circle.”
As members of a gin club, Luke and Justine receive a selection of craft gins each month: “We both love proper craft gin and being part of the gin club we received unusual craft gins from all over the world, there are so many people doing different things with gin! One month we received one from Salcombe Gin in south Devon where they run a gin school, so we decided to go on a one-day course to learn more,” recalls Justine.
“During the course we were given a mini still in which we made our own gin. We found it fascinating and it really spurred us on, so when we returned home we bought our own mini still and continued our research in earnest.”
The pair were adamant that their gin would reflect their rural surroundings in the Ribble Valley with ingredients that are quintessentially English.
“There are a lot of citrus heavy gins out there and we wanted to be different,” says Justine. “Little Lane is more earthy thanks to the oak bark and angelica root we use. We also use lime leaves to balance the earthiness as there is a native British lime. We use coriander too and while most people might associate coriander with exotic places, it does grow on the southern coast of England. The coriander really finishes off the flavour.”
Using the mini still at home meant that Justine and Luke could fine-tune their recipe until they considered it perfect – then they began asking friends and family their opinions.
“They absolutely loved it – many people do remark on how smooth it is. When we were developing the gin, we wanted to keep away from anything faddy. We want our gin to be a genuine craft gin with a great, smooth taste.”
Once they had the perfect recipe Justine and Luke set about finding a larger still in which to make Little Lane Gin and finding the perfect one, wasn’t easy. They eventually tracked down a gleaming copper 83 litre column still from Kentucky, that was delivered earlier this year enabling the couple to start making their gin on a commercial scale.
Their tried and tested method involves vapour infusion – the spirit evaporates up through the still column through a ‘basket’ of Luke and Justine’s chosen botanicals, creating a wonderful infusion that gives the gin its unique flavour.
Luke explains: “A lot of craft gins aren’t made using this method, they are made using a pot still with the botanicals thrown in. The vapour infusion method we use makes for a really clean taste and flavours that you can identify. You can taste the stinging nettles and florals along with the heather and other ingredients. We run the still quite slow which also makes a difference to the end flavour.”
“An awful lot of time went into selecting the botanicals and the quantity. We spent a lot of time tasting and testing – it was great fun!” adds Justine.
With production underway, the couple set about choosing the elegant glass bottles for their gin as well as designing a label, which was hand drawn by a Ribble Valley watercolourist now living in the south of France.
“We wanted to celebrate the Ribble Valley as it’s such a beautiful part of the world and that’s reflected in the label,” they explain. “The valley is also known for its local produce so we want to add another excellent product to its hitlist.”
Producing 50 bottles of Little Lane gin per batch, using pure spring water from a private estate in the Trough of Bowland and the finest natural botanicals, Luke and Justine are thrilled with their gin and are now embarking on their next project – a summer gin and possibly a limited edition vodka. Watch this space!