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Spirit of the Downs – a New Sussex Artisan

We’re always excited when we discover a new Sussex artisan, and possibly never more so than when it involves either alcohol or the South Downs, both being particular favourites here at SE HQ. So we were delighted when we came across Spirit of the Downs. And we were even more delighted when they agreed to share one of their cocktail recipes with us.

The unique spirit of the South Downs  

Spirit of the Downs

Spirit of the Downs produce a grape spirit, created from grapes grown by small batch English sparkling wine producers in and around the South Downs. The grape spirit is distilled using Pinot Noir and Meunier grapes using traditional production methods with a combination of both indigenous wild and champagne yeasts. The result is a smooth but flavoursome spirit that can be drunk straight or as an alternative to vodka. After distillation, the pomace from Spirit of the Downs is used to feed the Sussex x Wagyu cattle and help fertilise the apple orchard at Trenchmore Farm in Sussex.

What’s more, Spirit of the Downs has just won three stars at the prestigious Great Taste Awards. The judges described it as, “This is rather exceptional – there’s a beautiful creaminess to this eau de vie. It carries its alcohol so lightly, it’s positively dangerous. Raisin notes are prominent and give just a touch of sweetness to this sublime drink. Aromas of dark honey and raisins on the nose. The playful flavour was surprisingly delicate and gave a long, satisfying finish. Very sophisticated.”

The producers meanwhile describe the spirit as having the essence of grape with stone fruits, including hints of plum and apricot. It’s ideal for sipping neat on its own with an ice cube, with a soda water and fruit garnish as a low calorie high ball or as part of a spritz cocktail with angostura bitters. Each bottle of small-batch distilled spirit is unique to a single vintage and varietal and labelled with its own unique limited release number.

Two new brandies

Spirit of the Downs have also recently launched two new artisan Sussex brandies, namely an English oaked and a French oaked brandy. Described by its creators as “a more intense English brandy with plenty of fruit with flavours of sweet caramel, Crème Brule, raisins and balanced oak with smokiness and a long finish“, the French oaked brandy was awarded one-star at the prestigious Great Taste Awards. The judges described it as, “A refined and elegant spirit with a rich Limousin oak spiciness. Remarkably smooth with a very slight toast/smoke character and sweet biscuity note making this a very accessible and easy drinking brandy with a refined medium dry fruit flavour. Absolutely delicious.”

Spirit of the Downs brandies are also being used by local vineyards as a “secret recipe” dosage for their sparkling wines, to add complexity and depth of flavour.

Spirit of the Downs

Inspired by our Sussex vineyards 

Spirit of the Downs founder and wine specialist, Michael Yeoman, explains how this brand came about, “I have been inspired by the quality of wines being produced here in the Sussex and along the South Coast to produce a range of fine spirits to complement the sophistication and quality coming out of the local area … I am so proud of the quality that we have been able to produce, and even more proud that we have worked so closely in the traditional style with local vineyards. We are extremely excited about the future and establishing not only our brand, but a new style of drinking vintage spirits in the South of England.”

Spirit of the Downs will also launch five new varietals coming out of several local vineyards from the 2020 vintage which include Breaky Bottom Vineyard, Plumpton Estate and Tickerage with varieties of Seyval Blanc, Chardonnay, Champagne Mix and Pinot Noir which will be released in Spring 2022.

Enjoy a Jammy Sour

And now for a cocktail!

Spirit of the Downs


50 ml – Spirit of the Downs Spirit

12 ml – Apricot Liqueur

15 ml  – Sugar Syrup

25 ml – freshly squeezed lemon juice

I egg white

Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker along with some cubed ice, then shake, strain and serve! Enjoy! We think this is perfect for an autumn evening, thank you!

You can find out more about Spirit of the Downs:

If you like this post about the Spirit of the Downs,  you may also like:

There’s Something Special About Sussex Gin

Three Very Different Sussex Gins

Sussex Rum Comes to Horsham

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