Pothecary Gin is a relatively new English gin made by Soapbox Spirits near Christchurch in Dorset and joins the Conker Gin to make a brace of Dorset Gins. Soapbox Spirits was founded in 2015 by two friends, Martin Jennings and Lukasz Dwornik. Martin had spent many years working in the UK wine and spirit trade whilst Lukasz had been working in hospitality management when they decided to take the plunge and create their own gin.
After a relatively short period of experimentation with all sorts of botanicals (and some months of wrangling with HRMC) the final blend of botanicals was whittled down to just five. All of the botanicals are either organically grown or hand-foraged from the wild and essentially organic. The base spirit is an English grain spirit. The five botanicals in Pothecary Gin are:
Wild Foraged Juniper from Bulgaria
Organic Lavender from Provence
Organic Black Mulberries from Anatolia
Organic Lemon Peel from Sicily
Wild Foraged Tilia Flowers from Poland
The sharp eyed will have noticed that the Pothecary Gin label says that it is a blended gin. This is a laborious and time-consuming method of gin production and most producers stick with the “one shot” London Dry style of gin production whereby all the botanical are distilled together. For Pothecary Gin the botanicals are distilled separately and then the five distillates are blended together to produce the final product. It is said that this method allows for much more control over flavours and aromas produced in the separate distillates.
When Martin and Lukasz began distilling they began with two small copper pot stills from Portugal, a 35 litre still for the juniper distillation and a 3.5 litre still for distilling the four other botanicals. This allows them to produce produce around 120 bottles (50cl) gin a week. At the time they were distilling in the spare room of Martin’s House in Bournemouth. Since then they have moved to larger premises and have acquire a new 60 litre copper still. If they could run both the 35 litre and 60 litre still flat out, with more people, they could perhaps produce around 900 bottles per week. It will more likely be about 350 bottles a week. This is still hand-crafted small-scale production!
Pothecary Gin have really hit the ground running and have been justly rewarded. In fact they won a coveted Double Gold from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2016 (probably the most renowned spirits competition in the world) before they had even settled on bottle and label designs. Each bottle is individually filled, corked and sealed but hand and is presented in a very smart old medicine-type bottle. Bottled at 44.8% abv.