Salcombe Distilling Co. has enjoyed tremendous growth since launching in 2016, born from a love of gin and a dream “to produce the finest white spirit in the world, within one of the most stunning coastal towns”.
Set up by co-founders Angus Lugsdin and Howard Davies, who met over 20 years ago while working as sailing instructors at the Island Cruising Club in Salcombe, Devon, the distillery occupies the club’s former site and is thus one of the world’s only distilleries accessible by boat. In addition to producing a range of internationally acclaimed gins, the pair has also launched a gin delivery service to visiting yachts in the area, and the Salcombe Gin School. Here, visitors can learn about distillation as well as opting to create their own bottle of gin.
With a recipe developed over the course of 18 months, the distillery’s first gin, ‘Start Point’ has a name that signifies the distillery’s first of many gins to come, as well as the distillery’s location (the southernmost point in Devon). Inspired by the ‘Salcombe Fruiters’, who imported most of Britain’s citrus fruit during the 19th Century, the recipe has a prominent focus on utilising grapefruit, lemon and lime, with their flavours enhanced by a range of other spices and botanicals.
A one shot spirit, Salcombe Gin is distilled in a 450-litre copper pot still, custom built by world class still manufacturer Arnold Holstein, named ‘Provident’ after the Brixham sailing trawler that was the founding vessel of the Island Cruising Club. In addition to the copper pot, ‘Provident’ also has a copper side column to provide maximum copper contact during distillation, thus ensuring the gins produced are exceptionally smooth, whilst preserving the botanicals’ full spectrum of delicate flavours.
For production of ‘Start Point’, the still is charged with a combination of English grain spirit, local Dartmoor water and a blend of thirteen botanicals, with citruses peeled just ahead of maceration to retain optimum freshness. The tails from the previous run are also added to the mix, containing prominent earthy notes from Angelica, which provides an important backbone to the gin. Distillation takes approximately nine hours and produces enough liquid to fill 600 70cl bottles. Once finished, the liquid is transferred to a blending tank to rest for a couple of days before more Dartmoor water is added. The final product is then bottled with a deliberate nod to Salcombe’s nautical history, embellished with a racing flag and map.
On the nose, Salcombe Gin ‘Start Point’ opens up with sweet root notes quickly succeeded by juniper and citrus, eventually followed by aromas of pepper, coriander seed and rounded with a nuanced flourish of Angelica. Liquorice is also prevalent in the mouth, with the gin’s 44 per-cent ABV unusually soft, rife with bright lime peel, a classic note of resinous juniper and earthy Angelica root which leads to a slightly spicy finish with a whisper of cardamom and creamy juniper.
Exceptionally smooth and enjoyable on its own, the distillery’s suggested ‘signature serve’ is a citrus-led gin and tonic, favouring Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water with a ratio of no more than three parts tonic to one, garnished with a slice of red grapefruit.
Salcombe Gin ‘Start Point’ signature serve recipe
50ml Salcombe Gin ‘Start Point’
150ml chilled Fever Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water
Red grapefruit, garnish
Fill a copa glass ¾ with cubed ice.
Slice and add a ¼ slice of red grapefruit to the glass.
Add 50ml Salcombe Gin ‘Start Point’.
Add 150ml of Fever Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water.
Gently stir and serve.
Further information on Salcombe Gin can be found here.