ON TO A WINNER…
Among the youngest distillers in the country, two gin experts from Preston are blazing a trail within the craft gin industry
Two lads making Lancashire’s finest gin – that’s what young millennials Ellis McKeown and Liam Stemson announced to the world when they launched No.1 Fairham Gin.
Being among the youngest distillers in the UK, the Penwortham duo have attracted nationwide attention in terms of awards and respect for their Signature Edition Gin – a handcrafted, copper distilled, contemporary dry gin built on a juniper-forward base, which is 100 per cent vapour infused using exotic fruits adding unique, fresh, citrus layers.
Being avid gin lovers and having enjoyed their fair share of G&Ts over the years, in 2020 the pair set out to make their mark in the craft gin industry and create a proper gin with a truly modern influence.
“We have both always wanted to create our own gin. Over the years we fell in love with craft gin after being part of several clubs and over time we began to think that we really could make our own,” says Liam.
“We would try different gins each month and we would discuss them – but nothing really stood out. For our own gin we wanted to make juniper the star of the show, as it should be in gin, but we also wanted to make something that would be unique to us and add something different to the hugely popular craft gin market,” says Liam, who has worked in sales and uses his skills to look over the business elements of No.1 Fairham Gin.
“We still have our day jobs,” adds Ellis, who has a keen eye for design having come from a social media and marketing background.
“Our mix of skills has really helped develop our craft gin – it’s been a real passion project,” agree Liam and Ellis, who are also mindful of the company’s eco-credentials, choosing plastic free packaging and are dedicated to planting trees in the Lancashire area.
“The word handcrafted gets used a lot in the gin industry, but as a two-man team we pride ourselves on being truly handcrafted!” says Ellis, who together with Liam does everything from the peeling and dehydrating of fruits to the labelling of all of the bottles. The pair even designed their own bottle labels and brand, they do their own website photography and run almost everything that is involved within the business – as well a distilling their dry Lancashire gin.
When they set to work creating their first gin, working from home, Ellis and Liam acquired a small three-litre copper still – today they operate a 60-litre copper still from a unit that houses their micro-distillery, crafting around 50 bottles per batch.
“The still is the perfect size for us at the moment, very traditional – in fact, we had a copper basket especially made for the fruits and botanicals so that we can properly vapour infuse and pick up the fresh notes that you get in our gins.”
Their Signature Edition is a complex smooth gin that features layered notes of fresh citrus – botanicals include juniper, coriander seeds, cinnamon, pink grapefruit, lemon, clementine, guava, kumquat and physalis.
Ellis and Liam have also developed Ochre Edition, their take on a spiced orange gin, that also includes juniper, orange, clementine, pink grapefruit and coriander seeds with the addition of angelica root, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. This results in a gin that is zesty with subtle finishing notes of carefully-blended, warming spices.
A third edition is in the making – a proposed ‘lighter-vibe’ summer version featuring apple and olive leaf with a final, fourth edition completing their portfolio in 2023.
“We want to have a core four,” says Liam. “We are tremendously proud of the brand and what we have achieved in our first year. Highlights include launching our pre-order Signature Edition bundles that sold out within two days, planting 1,000 trees in Lancashire for every bottle sold with the Ribble Rivers Trust and becoming a multi-award-winning distillery – we just really want to keep the momentum going!”