The Challenges of Distilling in Gibraltar
We knew when embarking on our mission to open a small-batch gin distillery in Gibraltar there would be challenges but we also knew that the effort would be worthwhile. After all, provenance counts for something right so we would want to make it, not fake it.
It would have been so much cheaper and a lot less effort to have had a large commercial distillery in the UK make it, bottle it, label it and ship it down. But what would be the point of a Gibraltar gin or any other spirit for that matter if it wasn’t made here? You could just drink your favourite tipple and read a story about Gibraltar’s rich history with the same result. We wanted to be authentic, original and unique and we are.
The first challenge was how to get everything we needed into Gibraltar. Nobody had ever tried this so there was very little help or advice available. We wanted to choose as many botanicals as possible that grow near Gibraltar.
Although we don’t have swathes of wheat fields on our doorstep we do have oranges, lemons, grapefruit, lemongrass, peaches, carob pods, Moroccan rose as well as Campion and Candytuft, these readily available ingredients helped us design our very unique handcrafted gins.
Our bottles are made in France, our grain spirit is also from Europe and we order the largest amounts we can afford in order to lessen our impact on the environment. We also offer a return incentive on our bottles for businesses and those living locally to reduce our need to reorder so often.
Finding a suitable place for the distillery at an affordable price was very difficult but those of you who have seen Athena sitting proudly in No 8 George’s Lane will agree we found the perfect place.
Once the premises of the old lemonade factory making ‘Brand 5’ a favourite with locals, George’s Lane was also home to the first Governor of Gibraltar, Prince George of Darmstadt.
DISTILLING AT THE GIBRALTAR GIN DISTILLERY
The art of distilling was a skill Peter had to learn as no such person existed in Gibraltar so off he went to London to learn from one of the best. Obviously, this skill takes time to hone and perfect, as well as creating the blend that became Campion our award-winning gin. Gibraltar now has its very own distiller who can guide those wanting to create their own bespoke gins.
The water we use is clean and tasteless just how we want it. You are drinking gin and all the flavour comes from the botanicals! Some have tried to discredit our gin by stating that the water quality in Gibraltar is substandard but we can assure you that it isn’t. It was one of the first things we looked at and found we were able to use high-quality drinking water with added filters to eliminate any residual taste. Refer to paragraph one for more insight into why this ‘excuse’ might be used as a marketing tactic. In keeping with our green ethos, we recycle our precious cooling water so that we save a whopping 500,000 litres of freshwater per year from being wasted.
At the heart of ‘Spirit of the Rock’ is ‘heart’, we love what we do and we do it with passion. It’s true we are a small company but then Gibraltar is a small country so we are a perfect match.
We do have a confession to make though; we lied about our gin award! We actually won ‘Best’ in our category but as the awards are allocated by country and as we were and still are the only distillery in Gibraltar of course we have the best Gibraltar gin and this made no sense for an accolade.
The Best award requires more allocated points than gold but we opted for a downgrade to Gold. However, we can truthfully say that Campion was voted one of the best gins in the world in 2020 and remains so in our opinion and those of Campion lovers everywhere.