English Whisky Co. Visit
- St George's Distillery
We had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful St. George's Distillery in Roudham, Norfolk, home of the English Whisky Co.
A purpose built distillery for some very delicious English single malt whiskies! The business is run by Andrew, who set up the company with his father, it has been a Barley farm for hundreds of years but in 2006 decided to branch out into a exciting new project of whisky distillation.
But why in Norfolk?
Here's what they have to say; "Why England and more specifically Why Roudham, Norfolk? Well there are only 2 main ingredients in whisky and we have them both. We have the purest, cleanest water in the Breckland aquifer deep beneath our distillery, we have the barley as Norfolk is one of the world's premier growing regions."
Our visit started with a brief in to the world of whisky from David Fitt, the chief distiller. David started off with the real basics, explaining the difference between a single malt whisky and a blended whisky, we thought, as do the majority of the population, that single malt generally meant "better" but David educated us with the difference between them and also what gives some whisky that smoky, peaty flavour.
What we learnt:
Whisky made from malted barley from a single distillery.
Whisky made by blending whiskies together, either barley or wheat from different distilleries.
Whisky made using some grain that has been smoked over a peat fire.
We were shown the different types of grain and had a smell of the peated grain before then being lead through to the main part of the distillery.
Whisky, wherever it is made, goes through the same process with the unique flavours occurring naturally or to do with the process after distillation. So what is the process of making whisky?
How Whisky is Made:
Step 1 - Malting:
Barley grain is brought to the distillery, this grain contains lots of starch which is needed to extract the sugars from. Firstly the barley is soaked to start the germenation process which causes shoots to sprout. Once this has started the process is halted by kiln drying the grain - this is wear peat can be used to create that smoky flavour. After this process the ground down in a mill.
Step 2 - Mashing:
The ground malt is now added to warm water, this is then called "mash", and it is mixed so that the sugars dissolve in to the water.
Step 3 - Fermentation:
The liquid is then added to big tubs called washbacks where the yeast is then added. This starts the fermentation process creating the alcohol, the new liquid that is created is called "wash" and is similar to a beer or ale.
Step 4 - Distillation:
The "wash" is now boiled in giant metal stills, like a giant kettle, the vapour that comes off is condensed and runs down to be collected. This process is repeated which gives it the name "Double Distillation". The distilled liquid, called "spirit", is now at around 65 - 70%.
Step 5 - Maturation:
For a drink to legally be called whisky it must then be aged in casks for a minimum of 3 years. So once the spirit has been collected from the Distillery it is transferred in to oak casks to be stored. The English Whisky Company use Bourbon barrels to age theirs in.
To achieve different flavours different casks can be used, such as sherry casks, or you can age the whisky for longer in these casks. You can also mix different ages and finishes of whisky together to create a unique taste. This can still be Single Malt Whisky, not blended, as the whisky is still from a single distillery.
All the whisky from the St.George's Distillery is batch made by hand with no computers, matured in fine casks, bottled on site using our own water and is non chill-filtered.
Tasting the Whisky!
Next was the important part, tasting the English Whisky Companies whisky!
We were lead through the tasting again by the Chief Distiller, Mark.
Mark wanted to guide us through what processes create the different flavours in the whiskies and to make this "easy reading" the whiskies are each named by chapters.
- 3 year old non peated
Chapter 14 - 5 year old non peated
Chapter 7 - Finished in a rum cask
- Lightly peated
Chapter 15 - 5 year old heavily peated whisky
- Sherry cask
It was really great to be able to taste each of the whiskies in order and be able to go back to each one to see what difference each process made.
Each of the whiskies by the English Whisky Co. distilled at St. George's Distillery are light, crisp and fruity with a long satisfying finish, but there's no use in listening to what we think, you should try this award winning range for yourself!
We've definitely come away from the trip with a far greater knowledge of whisky, and a slight soft spot for the English Whisky Company range.
- View Our Range from English Whisky Company
- Visit the Distillery Here