The BrewDog Distilling Co. invited me to their Birmingham road show last month. I’d heard of BrewDog, but I’d not ventured into their Birmingham bar before and their spirit range was new to me.
We were greeted with a very refreshing gin and tonic and I sat with a local couple who were shareholders in the company. This might sound like something that is out of reach for most people, but the company isn’t publically listed and you can buy a share for £25. Even with a single share you get a 5% discount in BrewDog bars and a 10% discount online, but more shares mean bigger discounts and other benefits too. The couple I sat with were enthusiastic ambassadors for the company and clearly felt like part of a community. They were regular purchasers online and had even made it to the AGM in Aberdeenshire!
Having seen and heard so much passion from their customers, I was interested to hear about the distilling of the spirits. It was really interesting to hear from Brewdog’s Steven Kersley (Head Of Distillation) because his knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm shone through. We started tasting the pure spirits as he talked about each one. Before we tried each one, we were encouraged to swill it around in the glass and take a good smell, a bit like you do at wine tastings. We also tried the tasting process with a cube of ice in the drink – it was amazing how it was so much more difficult to smell the spirit once we’d done this.
We started by trying a number of the gins. First up was the LoneWolf gin which comes in a bottle with a very striking wolf label. This was the gin that was in our gin and tonic, but we also tried it neat. Obviously for a gin, it’s the botanicals that really make it taste good and I was amazed at the level of thought, detail and experimentation that goes into selecting the right ingredients. We heard about the search for the best juniper berries; the importance of bringing in Scottish ingredients like pine needles; the various methods for extracting the flavour; and the vast number of distillations taken to fine tune and hone the final product. Next up we tried a delicious variation on the LoneWolf gin theme: LoneWolf Cloudy Lemon Gin. The gin is macerated in fresh Sicilian lemon peel for seven days to get a real punch of lemon flavour.
Next we tried the uncompromisingly pure single-malt Rogue Wave vodka. Vodka isn’t my favourite drink, but this one is a smooth, confident spirit. It benefits from the careful four times distilling process that brings forth all of the flavour, and the single filtration to hand onto all that taste. It’s typical of Brewdog’s commitment to quality that they put so much effort into making a quality base spirit.
Overall I was really impressed by the commitment and determination of BrewDog to make quality spirits with a great level of attention to detail. I’ll certainly be back to try some of their beer and maybe buy a share or two too.