During my recent stay at The Vale Resort I was treated to a Gin Distillery Tour at the Hensol Castle Distillery which is South Wales’ first full scale gin distillery, visitor experience, gin school and bottling plant, all distilling nicely in the cellars of the 17th century Hensol Castle.
The tour started off with a guided tour and chat about the history of Hensol Castle (I do love castles and history) and Gin (rather partial I might add) which was fascinating to learn more about. I'm already pretty clued up on Gin on account of my fourth great grandfather Alexander Gordon being the founder of Gordon's Gin in 1769 so it was interesting to learn more about the movers and shakers in the Welsh Gin trade.
I had a look and sniff around the Sensory Botanical Room which has over 100 different botanicals from all over the world and learnt how these botanicals enhance the gin. I also saw the 500 litre copper still Big Ben named after Benjamin Hall who was responsible for the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament and the installation of Big Ben (Wales in London!) and the namesake of Benjamin Hall Gin.
Then I it was on to the Gin Tasting itself where I tasted 6 different blends of gin, all very different of course with their different botanics. It's not just gin though, Crawshay is a premium spirits brand introduced by Hensol Castle Distillery with a variety of Gins, Vodkas and Liqueurs. Crawshay Spirits are crafted from bespoke recipes representing the flavours and colours from Wales, offering the most exquisite and gratifying taste notes.
Crawshay Spirits is named after Hensol Castle resident Richard Crawshay (1739-1810) who contributed to the economic development of Wales, establishing it in the global market driven by producing the most desirable Iron products.
The name Crawshay comes from Richard Crawshay a previous resident of Hensol Castle and Cyfarthfa Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil whose second daughter Charlotte married Dr Benjamin Hall who is buried at Llandaff Cathedral. It was their son also named Benjamin Hall, 1st Baron of Lllanover, Monmouthshire of Big Ben fame who also became a partner of Cyfarthfa Ironworks. Interestingly Richard's nephew was Joseph Bailey who built the Glanusk Estate in Crickhowell and his other nephew William Crawshay died at Caversham Park (Wales/Berkshire connection there for Wales Week / Berkshire).
Afterwards I enjoyed a glass of G&T in the Gin Bar which is a tastefully decorated room with a nod to the copper stills.
When you book on a Gin Making Experience at Hensol Castle Distillery you can distil, bottle and label your own gin exactly the way you want it with your choice of over 100 different ones. The experience takes 2½ hours and while you're there you will make a little drop of Gin history with your own 70cl bottle to your specific recipe. To book click here.
If you happen to be around on the last Saturday of every month why not book yourself in for a Gincocktail masterclass with the master Distiller Dai and his team of knowledgeable mixologists.
Whether you like yours shaken, stirred or on the rocks you'll definitely enjoy the masterclass and you'll take your finely honed skills home with you to make your favourites and wow your friends and family.
What about a private cocktail masterclass? Contact the distillery to check availability and request a bespoke quote and date.