It was a great pleasure to meet Felicity, daughter of Edward who began Bramley and Gage and Jonnie who we know and love and took us around the working hub of 6 0’Clock distillery.
What better way to start the tour than with a glass of 6 0’Clock Gin and Tonic, specially prepared by Felicity. Although it was only 3pm, we knew it was 6 0’Clock somewhere in the world.
Felicity and Michaels parents are the foundation of Bramley & Gage, Edward and Penny had fruit farms in Devon and although growing and selling fruit was great they also enjoyed playing and experimenting. From their experimenting came the range of fruit liqueurs that we enjoy today. From the classic intense Creme de Cassis to the dry style of Quince, which happens to be one of my favourites, superb with a lovely piece of cheese.
It came to the point where Edward and Penny wanted to look at retiring and approached their children Michael and Felicity to take on the business. At that point the business was situated in Devon, while Edward and Penny where away enjoying their first taste of freedom, Michael and Felicity moved the business to Thornbury. It wasn’t long before Edward and Penny moved close to Thornbury and are still very much involved in the company.
Time is one of the main ingredients in making both the liqueurs and gin. The fruit is gentle pressed, similar to a quality wine making process, but on a smaller scale, this extracts all that lovely fruit juice to make the liqueurs. It is then left to settle over time, this process can weeks to months depending on the fruit.
Sloes and damsons are macerated with the neutral spirit, where the spirit used has to be a minimum of 40% abv. The strength and quality of the spirit is important to the end quality of the Sloe and Damson gin as the high strength draws out the goodness of the fruit which of course effects the taste.
To be classed as Sloe Gin, it must be at least 25% abv, Gin is 37.5% and the “creme” in Creme de Cassis must have a sugar content of 400g/l and 18% abv.
Edwards creativity didn’t stop at making gin and liqueurs, he wanted to make a smoother gin and to improve that he designed a unique pot still that has two bubbles. The purpose of the handmade double bubble still is to create the sense of a double distillation process, and the interaction with copper allows for a smoother gin.
The recipe of botanicals are key to the gins flavour, juniper being the predominate botanical followed by 6 others. I really loved the smell of the herbaceous winter savoury, while the orange citrus peel gives a lovely freshness and the elderflower gave a touch of light elegance. Once distilled the spirt is then bought down to 43% abv with water. The style of water is also key to the finish of the spirits taste, it’s not just water from the tap that is used. The water used is called Tarka and has been filtered through granite this has no lime content as lime can make the gin cloudy or throw a deposit.
The whole process is very much hands on and it doesn’t stop at production, the hands on process goes through to filling the bottles, the stoppers, labelling and boxing! Each and every bottle is checked by hand. This whole process is completed by Agata, who is quick and very efficient, however, Jonnie demonstrated how it was done. You were great Jonnie but glad to know Agata is on the case on a daily basis : )
While at the bottling and labelling line, we had the pleasure of meeting Tom, who is the master distiller and in charge of creating the 6 0’Clock gin and liqueurs. Although Edward is retired it allows him time to play and create with Tom and the new edition is dry and sweet vermouth to make the perfect British Martini.. Which Felicity named Gin & Brit, which I think is perfect.
I can highly recommend the Gin & Brit, 1 part 6 0’Clock Gin 2 parts Bramley & Gage dry vermouth.
The Bramley & Gage dry vermouth will be on sale soon at The Wine Shop to accompany the 6 0’Clock gin and the range of delicious liqueurs.
The over riding feel you have with Bramley & Gage is the family, hands on love for each product, every step of production is done by hand with thought, precision.