There’s Sussex gin, and then there’s Sussex gin. By which I mean, some of our Sussex gins are made with such love and passion for the craft of gin making and the surrounding environment that it puts them in a league of their own. And that’s the joy of our thriving Sussex gin industry. And with that in mind, here are three fantastic and very individual Sussex gins which if you haven’t tried already, you might want to put on your list of “must-drinks”.
Harley House Gin
I first came across Harley House gins at Borde Hill in 2021. I was struck by their art deco labels and their sense of fun. Since then I’ve been to their premises and drunk a fair bit of their gin because I seem to just keep wanting to go back for more. Harley House Distillery is a small-batch distillery based in Seaford, East Sussex. Each batch the distillery produces consists of a limited number of bottles. The water they use is local water that is filtered through the South Downs and unusually, they create the initial alcohol solutions themselves. The first batch of their signature Pure Sussex Gin was released in September of 2017 and has since won multiple awards. They have now expanded their range and produce 15 different flavours spanning gin, rum, vodka, and liqueurs!
Their gins include Honeysuckle & Hibiscus Gin, Clementine Gin and seasonal Sussex Sloe Gin made with hand-picked, local sloes. Also in the range is their very popular and even funner “Sussex Blue Gin”. When you add your tonic, it changes colour (there is a fabulous reel on our Instagram page that demonstrates this if you’re interested). Their Curiosity range is where they have fun with flavours and includes the likes of Indian Spice & Mango Gin, Raspberry & Elderflower Gin, Lemon Gin, Strawberry Gin, and an award-winning Hedgerow Gin as well as their Kaffir Lime Vodka.
I want my gin to tell a story and this is certainly true of Slake Spirits. With roots in Old English, slake means “to satisfy” and Slake Spirits is an independent, ecological, human-scale distillery in Worthing. Founded by Dr Thomas Martin-Wells (AKA Tom), Tom’s curiosity led him to start gathering local aromatic herbs and botanicals to tinker with. It was during these foraging forays and the investigative experiments in his garage that he found a new purpose and decided to take up the challenge of creating uniquely “Sussex” gins, good enough to sip neat, that captured the essence of the land and local terroir. Spirits that showcase adventurous foraged flavours and reconnect us with place and nature. They’ve recently moved into new premises and are now producing a multi-award-winning range of spirits including Sussex gin, aperitifs and brandy.
From maceration to bottling, development to distillation, everything takes place at their Chalk House premises. If you’re wondering about their dragon logo, it’s inspired by an infamous past Sussex resident, the Knucker. Legend has it, Knuckers were enormous water dragons that lived in Knuckerholes; bottomless, ever-springing, chalk-fed pools scattered across the downland. Slakes current range includes a Sussex Dry Gin, a Hedgerow Gin, and an Alexander Gin as well as a Wild Elixir – Bacchus Gin based aperitif, a Wild Elixir – Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Bacchus Oak aged aperitif, and a Dragon Brandy!
Cabin Pressure Spirits
Cabin Pressure Spirits are owned and run by Horsham duo, David and Emily, who started producing small-batch spirits and liqueurs from their cunningly repurposed garden shed. They launched their first self-titled gin in 2017, which gained popularity for its smooth, easy-drinking style and distinctive ceramic bottles. Having now re-located their micro-distillery to larger premises in the town, Cabin Pressure’s ever-expanding product range includes the award-winning Horsham Spirit Gin (Gold, Gin Masters 2021), Horsham Serpent Gin (Silver, International Wine and Spirit Competition 2022), and Cold-Brew Coffee Liqueur (Silver, Liqueur Masters 2020). They also collaborate with other local producers and venues, which has resulted in delectable creations such as Leonardslee Botanical Garden Gin, Kissingate Brewery Black Cherry Gin, and Loxwood Meadow Sloe Gin.
Unusually, Cabin Pressure’s spirits are produced by vacuum distillation. A vacuum pump is used to lower the pressure in a still made entirely of glass. This means that the botanical-infused alcohol evaporates at a much lower temperature than in traditional copper still distillation. This gentle approach results in particularly smooth, intricately flavoured gins. Each characterful bottle, some of which feature Emily’s colourful artwork, is wax-sealed and numbered by hand.
You will be able to try and buy all these gins at the Bubbles and Botanicals Fair at South Lodge on the 19th of November 2022.
If you like this post about Sussex gins, you may also like: