Did you know that every single bottle of Tarquin’s Cornish Gin is still made in a tiny distillery outside Padstow?
I didn’t either! Tarquin’s is now the gin of choice in many bars around the country, has won multiple awards across the globe, is exported across the continents, and yet every bottle is still made here in Cornwall at the humble Southwestern Distillery.
Alex and I are avid gin drinkers, and usually find ourselves requesting a Tarquin’s at our local bars. It’s been a favourite for us for a while! So I was really looking forward to seeing how the company works behind the scenes and understand more about the process of gin-making…
We were greeted on the door with their original Tarquin’s Dry Gin & tonic, served with a grapefruit and thyme tonic from Fevertree, before having an introduction to the history of Tarquin’s gin. As a relatively new spirit brand (set up in 2012), it’s fascinating to hear about the growth of the company, starting from just one man with a desire to create the perfect gin!
Brand ambassador and tour leader, Sophie, was a fantastic host throughout the evening. You could see how passionate she is about gin and the Tarquin’s brand, and she was great to listen to as she told us the story of the company.
Sophie introduced us to the 12 botanicals used in Tarquin’s gin, and explained the gin-making process, letting us smell each one and explaining the notes within the gin. Tarquin still actually works 4 days a week at the distillery, and he is still the only person who knows the exact quantities and recipes that go into each of the brand’s gins.
After discussing the gin making process and recipe combinations, we were shown a shelf full of old bottles of gin mixtures, made by Tarquin as he had been experimenting to find the perfect recipe for his first product – the Dry Gin. It was so interesting to see all the labels with different ingredients and ratios he’d been trying as he got to grips with the process.
We then headed as a group next door into the distillery itself – an old sheep barn! The whole distillery has been set up on a working farm using the old sheds and barns to house the Copper Ladies that produce the gin. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside this area, but it was amazing to see just how small the production of this multi-national, award-winning gin really is!
The production process is still really manual, using old Copper Ladies for the distillation process, and every single bottle is hand labelled, hand waxed (to get that wonderfully iconic wax cap!) and hand signed too! It is literally one person’s job to hand-sign every single label, and there’s no plans to automate that any time soon.
We then headed back over to the visitor area and lined up along a table to start our tutored gin-tasting of Tarquin’s four most popular gins. First up, their infamous ‘Sea Dog’ gin! This surprisingly smooth navy-strength 57% abv gin actually holds the title of ‘World’s Best Gin’ and has won several awards.
The second was their Blackberry & Honey gin, one that not many have tried before but I think it’s my favourite! We were encouraged to try the gins straight and then with their tonic pairing. This was paired with a Fevertree Sicilian Lemonade and it was a super delicious combination! Definitely one I’ll be trying at home.
The third was their Limited Edition Rhubarb and Raspberry gin. We’ve tried this one a few times at our local bars, and I very much like this one too (can you tell I have a sweet tooth?). This was paired with a Fevertree Ginger Beer which worked amazingly as well!
Last but not least was their Limited Edition Hopster gin, in partnership with Sharp’s Brewery. We were the only ones in the group to have actually tried this before, at our meal with Sharp’s at Porthleven Food Festival. A beer gin may not sound like everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s actually really nice, and paired with Fevertree’s Mediterranean Tonic (a subtler taste than classic Indian tonics), it goes down a treat!
We had a fantastic evening learning more about our favourite spirit and getting to try some delicious drink combinations with the Tarquin’s team.
This tour costs £15 per person and lasts 90 minutes, including the tasting experience. If you’d like to wax your own bottle at the end, you can pay an additional £35 for the bottle. We felt this was great value and something I’d definitely recommend doing with some friends and family who love gin and want to learn more about this awesome brand!
Find out more and buy tickets on the Tarquins website.
* We were kindly hosted for free but all thoughts are my own