Meet the Anno Distiller

In this edition of the Prohibition Blog, we caught up with Andy Reason, company founder and distiller at Anno Spirits Company.

Andy, tell us about your distillation journey, where did it begin?

Opening a distillery was always an idea that we never thought would become a reality. As founders Norman and I are extremely passionate about fine wines and spirits - gin especially being one of Norman’s favourites. When the option of taking early retirement from pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline presented itself we seized the opportunity to follow our dreams and Anno Distillers was born.

So much has changed from our humble beginnings starting off with two families putting our scientific knowledge into creating a gin recipe in my kitchen to becoming a luxury British brand with five spirits that distribute all over the UK and now we are looking to move to exporting across the World.

What’s your favourite part of making Gin?

Being scientists the recipe development has to be our favourite part - it’s exciting to experiment with different flavours that no-one has used before. Then when you produce a final product that becomes multi-award winning it’s an amazing feeling. So far we have won over 20 awards and accolades including receiving Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, a Double Gold Star at the Great Taste Awards and have been voted in the top 5 craft spirits in the country by public vote. 

From a flavour point of view, what makes your gin stand out?

Our Anno Kent Dry Gin combines traditional gin botanicals with three citrus notes and a range of local botanicals from the beautiful Garden of England including samphire, hops and florals. In total we use 16 different types of botanicals with a few varieties within these, the full range of botanicals consists of juniper, coriander, cassia bark, angelica root, orris root, liquorice, cubebs, kaffir lime leaves, Seville orange, whole fresh lemon, hops, samphire, elderflower, lavender, rose hips and camomile.

However, it’s not just about the botanicals we use to flavour the gin, it’s all about the distillation and how we use our science backgrounds with our specialised still to help create a smooth aromatic gin with intense flavours that bounce across the taste-buds and last in the mouth.

How long did it take to perfect your classic gin recipe?

Anno Kent Dry Gin is a rather complex and well-balanced gin, it meant we took a long time developing the recipe. We started with over 250 possible botanicals - after distilling the botanicals separately on our test 1 litre still, Faith, we blended a range of our favourites to make a few versions from floral to herbaceous to citrus led. We had these professionally tasted and then created our final recipe with a balanced mix, which was scaled up for distilling on Patience. It took around two years from starting recipe development in August 2011 to release of our first product in October 2013.

What size and what type of Still do you use, can you tell us a little about it?Our beautiful still is called Patience, she is aptly named due to our wait for a licence from the HMRC. She is a 300 litre copper-pot still, designed to our specifications, by a family run business, Christian Carl, in Germany. She has a botanicals basket to vapour infuse some of the lighter botanicals, a 7 plate rectification column that refluxes the spirit to make it super smooth and condenser to turn the vapour back into gin, so that we can drink it.

How often do you distil, and how long does one batch run take?

In the run up to the Christmas rush we are distilling a couple of times a week. The distillation of our Anno Kent Dry Gin can be done in 24 hours, but we leave the spirit in a tank for a couple of weeks – because of our complex recipe it allows the flavours time to marry together.

What is your favourite way to drink Anno and do you have a favourite Anno Cocktail?

Our spirits are so smooth I often drink them neat with a cube of ice, but they do also make cracking G&T paired with a premium tonic – with our Anno Kent Dry Gin my favourite serve is with Indian Tonic with a garnish of samphire and lime.

My favourite cocktails are an Anno 602 negroni, garnished with an orange twist and our Garden of England, which is made with muddled fruits, Anno Kent Dry Gin, Anno Elderflower&Vodka and apple juice, garnished with strawberries, blackberries and a mint sprig.

What’s next for the distillery?  Do you have any new products in the pipeline?

Being scientists we are always tinkering around with new potential product ideas, there are just so many exciting options, so we hope to bring out something new next year - it’s just deciding what! In the meantime our Christmas edition is out from October 2017 – a festively spiced Cranberry&Gin perfect to add to Prosecco for a Festive Fizz or served in hot apple juice for a winter warmer.

What other gins on the market (apart from your own) do you enjoy?

The gin market is a fantastic place to be in right now and the range of flavours available is phenomenal. I do have a good range of gins at home - like a good wine I pick my gin depending on my mood and what food I’m pairing it with. If I wasn’t drinking an Anno Gin I think Warner Edwards Rhubarb would probably top my list, especially with dessert.

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