It’s St. George’s Day and we’re flying the flag for English whisky. Despite our love for all things alcohol, until recently England has had a surprising lack of whisky distilleries; Alfred Barnard’s 1887 book The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom listed only four distilleries in England. By 1905, England had completely stopped producing single malt, and that way it stayed for nearly 100 years…

These days England is enjoying a boom in distilling with around 40 distilleries producing or in construction. To celebrate this, we wanted to showcase just a few of these distilleries and some of their exciting developments.

The English Whisky Company

We would be amiss to celebrate St George’s Day without mentioning the St George’s Distillery. Nestled in the Norfolk countryside, The English Whisky Company were one of the first to produce English single malt in over a century, a major event in English distilling that has led to possibly the oldest stock in the country of whisky that was brewed and distilled onsite.

The English Whisky Company have gone from strength to strength since their birth in 2006, releasing a broad variety of different cask maturations and mixes of peated and unpeated malts. A broad portfolio befitting of a this long established English Distillery.

The Cotswolds Distillery

In the lush vistas of the Cotswolds, a powerhouse of English distilling transforms local barley into exquisite spirit. Born from founder Dan Szor’s dreams and determination, the Cotswolds Distillery produces a classic style of single malt but with a focus on local resources and highly active casks. The results of their labour have struck a chord with the community, exceeding expectations in crowd-funding campaigns to grow the distillery.

The positive reception and continued success means this vibrant distillery are currently building a brand new stillhouse, allowing them to increase their output from 125,000 litres per year to 500,000! Watch this space…

White Peak Distillery

This year saw one of the most highly anticipated inaugural releases from a new English distillery. Based between Derby and the Peak District, White Peak Distillery is situated in an old wire works factory, lending inspiration to their bottle design and name of their whisky.

Released at the start of February, The Wire Works whisky blew us away. A delicate craft of lightly-peated malt with a delicious creamy sweetness, this is a first release done right. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for this tremendous newcomer.

Bankhall Distillery

In Alfred Barnard’s legendary aforementioned catalogue of distilleries, we can find one Bank Hall distillery. This Liverpool distillery was a work-horse of its day, producing nearly 7 million litres of alcohol per year. The distillery also produced spirits from a mix of different grains including maize, an untypical grain in British distilling and one more associated with American-style whiskeys. In the fall of English whisky, so too did this distillery close its doors.

In 2018, a new Bankhall emerged! Founded by Halewood Artisanal Spirits, the new iteration finds itself settled in Blackpool. A great example of the dynamic nature of English distilling, the Bankhall distillery produces bourbon-style whiskies using a variety of grains including maize and rye. Distillery Manager Vince Oleson has brought his wealth of experience producing bourbon from the Widow Jane distillery in New York and helped create another innovative facet in the world of English whisky.

Happy St. George's Day

Not as synonymous with whisky production as some of our near neighbours, English whisky is enjoying a renaissance where we are still deciding what “English whisky” is. We have but scratched the surface on what England has to offer, we wish we could delve into all of the fascinating developments and distilleries out there and highly recommend you explore this exciting frontier for yourselves.

At Grain & Glass, we feature an extensive range of English whiskies including those from the distilleries listed above, our Whisky Specialists are more than happy to explain the intricacies of the different English whiskies we stock to help you get the most out of the experience.

So, let’s fill our glass with something English and celebrate our patron saint’s day. Happy St. George’s Day folks.

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