English whisky

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Spirit still at St George's whisky distillery in Norfolk

English whisky is whisky produced in England. At least eight distilleries currently produce it, and there are 24 whisky distilleries across England in various stages of development. Though England is not well known for whisky, distillers operated in London, Liverpool and Bristol until the late 19th century, after which production of English single malt whisky ceased until 2003.[1] Since then, English whisky has experienced a resurgence in production.[2]


England, like Scotland, has a history of producing single malt whisky. However, the production of English single malt whisky ceased around 1905 with the closure of Lea Valley Distillery, in Stratford, London, by the Distillers Company Limited, one of the forerunners of Diageo.

In the 1887 book The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom by Alfred Barnard, the following English distilleries were listed:[3]

  • Lea Valley Distillery, Stratford, Essex (founded in the late 19th century) — produced both grain and malt whisky.
  • Bank Hall Distillery (Liverpool) — produced grain and malt whisky.
  • Bristol Distillery (founded in the 17th century) — produced grain whisky which was "sent to Scotland and Ireland to make a Blended Scotch and Irish whisky, for whisky purpose it is specially adapted, and stands in high favour".
  • Vauxhall Distillery in Liverpool (founded in 1781) — produced grain whisky.

In 2013 The London Distillery Company began production of the first single malt whisky in London since Lea Valley Distillery closed in 1903. Two other English distilleries, also producing whisky by 2014, were The Lakes Distillery and The Cotswolds Distillery.


The Lakes Distillery[edit]

On the shore of Bassenthwaite Lake, near Keswick in The Lake District UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Lakes Distillery is an award-winning whisky distillery attracting over 100,000 visitors each year.[4] In September 2019, The Lakes released The Whiskymaker's Reserve No.1, the distillery's first widely available single malt whisky.[5]

Bimber Distillery[edit]

An independent distillery in east London founded 2016.[6] The distillery released its inaugural single malt whisky in September 2019, with its 1,000 bottle limited release selling out in three hours. Further releases of a range of single malt whisky are due in 2020.[7]

Hicks & Healey[edit]

In 2003 two of Cornwall's drinks producers, St Austell Brewery and Healey's Cyder Farm, announced that they had begun to produce the first whisky in England for almost a century.[1]

In September 2011 the partnership released a 7-year old single malt and opted to use the spelling "whiskey". Whisky commentator and author of The Whisky Bible, Jim Murray, described the whiskey as "among the best debut bottlings of the last decade".[8]

St George's Distillery[edit]

St George's Distillery in Roudham, Norfolk, began production in 2006.[9]

The company founder James Nelstrop described it as a 45-year-old dream to make whisky in Norfolk and said that barley has historically been sent from Norfolk to Scotland to make whisky.[9]

The Cotswolds Distillery[edit]

The Cotswolds Distillery was established in 2014, and was the first full-scale distillery to be located in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Situated in a 5-acre site in Stourton in the North Cotswolds, its focus is distilling single malt whisky. It is one of only six distilleries producing English whisky.

The London Distillery Company[edit]

The London Distillery Company (TLDC) was based in a former dairy cold room in Battersea, London until December 2015 before moving to a railway arch in Bermondsey.[10]

TLDC was registered with Companies House in July 2011 by Darren Rook,[11][12] and investor and former microbrewery owner, Nick Taylor.[13]

East London Liquor Company[edit]

East London Liquor Company is based in a building that was once a glue factory in Bow Wharf, East London.[14]

Forest Distillery[edit]

The Forest Distillery is a multi-award winning, family owned distillery based in a 17th century barn, 1200ft above sea level in the Peak District National Park. Established by Karl & Lindsay Bond in 2014, they distill Single Malt English Whisky named "Forest Whisky", whilst also distilling Forest Gin and several other products. Forest Distillery also releases occasional casks of whisky from other distilleries as private bottling, and also create their own blended range.

Wharf Distillery[edit]

Wharf Distillery is an independent small batch distillery founded in 2014 by Laurence Conisbee to produce apple brandy, Aeppel Drenc, from its own cider (Virtual Orchard Cider[15]).

The distillery uses 300 litre, hand-beaten copper pot alembic stills from Portugal. Their range now includes gin Safine Drenc[16], vodka Gadan Drenc, and a range of single malts Fyr Drenc. Later in 2019 they plan to introduce a dark rum.

Their first whisky, named Cattle Creep after the narrow tunnel passing under the nearby Grand Union canal, was finally released in January 2019. Matured in a Madeira cask, this very limited release was bottled at 42.9% with a cask strength Distiller's Cut at 58.8% being made available in June 2019. The release of their whisky will make them England's smallest whisky distillery.[17][18]

The distillery takes its name from its original location on Galleon Wharf alongside the Grand Union canal, although it is currently located in the village of Potterspury, Northamptonshire.

Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery[edit]

Based in Humanby, near Scarborough, North Yorkshire. Partnered with the Woldtop Brewery Co., this distillery has been producing single malt in a pair of classic Forsyth stills since May 2016. 'Maturing spirit' at various stages has been released by the distillery, with the first bottles of their single malt whisky due for release in 2019. Emphasis is on quality, and innovation in wood management.

Cooper King Distillery[edit]

Cooper King Distillery is an independent English whisky and gin distillery based in Sutton on the Forest, Yorkshire, which was founded after the owners spent time living in Tasmania and became inspired by the Australian whisky industry.[19]

Established in 2016 by co-founders Christopher Jaume and Dr Abbie Neilson, the distillery started producing gin in early 2018 and will cask their single malt whisky in the summer of 2018. It is the country’s first self-built whisky and gin distillery.[20]

Cooper King’s single malt whisky is produced using a 900 litre Tasmanian-made copper pot still the only one of its kind outside Australasia, using Yorkshire barley, and aged in a variety of casks including ex-port, ex-sherry, and ex-bourbon.[21] [22] The distillery is powered by 100% renewable energy.[23]

Casks for the distillery are handmade at White Rose Cooperage by Alastair Simms, one of England’s last master coopers.[24]

The distillery is named after owner Chris Jaume’s great-great-grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Cooper King, who traced the family’s history back to Yorkshire in 1030 AD.[25][26]


  1. ^ a b Cornish take on Scotch, BBC News, Thursday, 1 May 2003.
  2. ^ AA, The Whisky Exchange- (2017-07-28). "English whisky – beating the Scots at their own game?". The Whisky Exchange Whisky Blog. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  3. ^ English Whisky page at Royal Mile Whiskies commercial website.
  4. ^ "'Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year 2019'". The Lakes Distillery. 17 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Inspired by nature, The Lakes Distillery introduces The Whiskymaker's Reserve single malt whisky". Walpole.
  6. ^ "Bimber Distillery - Single Malt London Whisky". Bimberdistillery.
  7. ^ "THE STORY - Bimber Distillery". Bimberdistillery. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  8. ^ Press Association (2011-09-22). "Cornwall produces first whiskey in 300 years". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  9. ^ a b English whisky bottled for first time in a century, BBC news, 10 December 2009.
  10. ^ "Interview with Darren Rook on Whisky Market Place". Whiskymarketplace.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  11. ^ Whisky Guy whisky blog
  12. ^ "Times online - Clampdown on freelancer rules". Thesundaytimes.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  13. ^ "Envestors London Team". Envestorslondon.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  14. ^ "East London Liquor Company offers whisky lovers dram come true". Harpers Website. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  15. ^ "Virtual Orchard". Berkshire Life and Buckinghamshire Life Magazine.
  16. ^ "Gintroducing…. Safine Drenc!". Laurence Conisbee.
  17. ^ "This is England". The Dramble.
  18. ^ "Wharf Distillery commercial website".
  19. ^ "Evaporate to accumulate: From scientist to gin and whisky entrepreneur - Dr. Abbie Neilson, Co-founder of Cooper King Distillery". March 7, 2018.
  20. ^ "Eco-friendly gin and whisky distillery announces its launch". The Northern Echo.
  21. ^ "England's 'smallest' distillery gains £75k funding".
  22. ^ Ltd, Insider Media. "NatWest funding for new Yorkshire distillery". Insider Media Ltd.
  23. ^ Ltd, Insider Media. "Ecotricity partners with new distillery". Insider Media Ltd.
  24. ^ "England's only master cooper predicts demise of barrel making". January 4, 2009 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-06-21. Retrieved 2018-03-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ "Couple aiming to produce whisky galore". www.yorkshirepost.co.uk.


External links[edit]