The London Distillery Company

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The London Distillery Company Ltd
TLDC Logo 2012
Type Single malt English whisky
Manufacturer The London Distillery Company Ltd
Country of origin London, SW11
United Kingdom
Introduced 2011

The London Distillery Company, also known as TLDC, is a distillery based in a former Victorian dairy cold room in Battersea, London.[1] TLDC produce English Whisky, London Gin and British spirits, compounds and cordials. TLDC also creates experimental spirits under the TESTBED brand; named after the art space of similar ethos by architect Will Alsop.[2][3]

The company was founded in 2011 by Darren Rook,[4][5] and angel investment expert and former microbrewery owner, Nick Taylor.[6] TLDC is London’s first whisky distillery since the Lea Valley distillery closed in 1903.[7][8]


Georgian Era[edit]

In 1807 Ralph Dodd proposed to build a distillery in Nine Elms, London. The company, to be called The London Distillery Company, took receipt of monies and share subscriptions for transferable shares. Dodd created a board of directors from prominent peers and engineers, partly prompted by Dodd's involvement with an 1806 business proposal for the Vauxhall Bridge Company.

The board of directors comprised: James Heygate,[9][10] Ralph Dodd, John Taylor, William Clay, William Norris, Fenwick Bulmer, Samuel Sharpe, John Moore, Matthew Wilson, James Norris, John Calvert Clarke, Thomas Rolle, Abraham Walker, John Moore and Christopher Dunkin.[11]

Following a complaint by a prominent Essex-based corn distillery headed by Tory MP Philip Metcalfe the English Crown brought a case against Dodd and The London Distillery Company under the 1720 Bubble Act. This was after raising funds, assembling staff and acquiring the Old Water Mill at Nine Elms on the Thames for £12,000. As the first case to be made under this act the Crown hired barrister Sir William Garrow as prosecutor. Dodd lost the case and the business was disbanded.[12]

Present day[edit]

The London Distillery Company logo from 2011 - used during the company's early funding stages

After reading an article in the Scotch Malt Whisky Society's Unfiltered magazine, and attending a Burns Night whisky tasting and dinner in 2010, TLDC co-founder, Nick Taylor, wondered why there no whisky distillery in London. After asking the evening's host if he knew the right person to start such a project, he was introduced to whisky ambassador and former manager of the London branch of the Society, Darren Rook. The London Distillery Company Ltd was incorporated at Companies House on 24 June 2011 by Rook and Taylor.


The London Distillery Company Ltd filed dormant trading accounts from June 2011 to March 2012.

Starting in early November 2011 TLDC took part in investment network Envestors Ltd's Rising Stars initiative to raise £250,000 against 45% equity. By late January 2012, TLDC had raised £150,000 through the Envestors network and friends and family of both founders. As traditional investment slowed down they decided to seek funding on crowd funding website Crowdcube to help raise a further £100,000.[13] In mid-March 2012 The London Distillery Company completed its funding round with substantial over-subscriptions and closed the round at £258,500.


London Single Malt Whisky[edit]

The London Distillery Company is the first distillery in London for over 100 years to produce a whisky. Working with consultant master distiller John McDougall and industry consultant and production specialist Dr James Swan the company combined modern innovations in equipment and historical methods to produce a premium aged malt spirit.


TLDC only uses organic British grown barley varieties such as Golden Promise, Maris Otter and Plumage Archer. These three barley varieties are no longer used in the Scotch industry due to the demands to create higher yields of spirit. TLDC gets it malted barley from Warminster Maltings.[14]


TLDC uses two 2,200 litre stainless steel fermenters from Christian CARL.

TLDC uses traditional London yeast varieties such as Whitbread B and Young's which are propagated as a liquid yeast slurry by Surebrew. Both were used for early stage fermentation trails in December 2013[15][16]


The London Distillery Company Ltd currently operates two pot stills.

For whisky production they distill on a 650 litres copper pot still with 4 plate distillation column which was manufactured in Stuttgart Germany. Manufactured by Christian CARL GmbH, Germany’s oldest distillery fabricator since 1869,[17] the stillhead was designed by Darren Rook.

Dodd's Gin[edit]

Although deliberately not labelled as such Dodd's Gin, is stylistically a London Dry Gin, and is named after Ralph Dodd.

Each batch run of the gin produces 180-200 bottles and uses Soil Association-approved organic ingredients including juniper, angelica, fresh lime peel, bay laurel, cardamom, red raspberry leaf and honey from London hives at The London Honey Company. The first batch of 141 bottles was sold exclusively at English department store, Fortnum & Mason.

Using a proprietary production method developed by TLDC, the base spirit is distilled in ‘Christina’, a traditional 140-litre copper alembic. A small proportion of the base is then used to macerate more delicate botanicals for 24 hours before being re-distilled in ‘Little Albion’, a rotary evaporator. The two spirits are then married for several weeks before being hand-bottled and labelled at the distillery.

The label was designed in Manchester, England by United Creative and print pressed by Blush Publishing of Wales. The paper used for the label is Strathmore Writing, a range of smooth uncoated British-made papers. Strathmore papers are carbon-neutral and manufactured using wind power.

The brand's responsible drinking message is taken from the opening lines of Ralph Dodd’s distillery business prospectus: “It is an evil too well known to require a dissertation – for the consequence arising from bad spirits, soon manifests in the destruction of its user.”


TESTBED1 is a limited edition pack of four 10cl bottles showing the product development of gin. Research and development of the four gin recipes was done by distiller Andrew MacLeod Smith and Darren Rook at The Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery, New York, as a part of MacLeod Smith's MSc in Brewing and Distilling from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

In collaboration with Dr Jason Grizzanti[18][19] the Company pioneered a new gin category: Anglo-American Gin,[20] acting as a crossover between the juniper-forward London Dry Gins and the more experimental New Western styles of American gins.[21]

The first release from the TESTBED range gives people the opportunity to chart the various stages of gin development. The gin gets its distinct complexity from varying proportions of unique, organic botanicals – including bilberry, lovage root and lavender.[22] South London freelance artist Jasmin Ford illustrated the package artwork.

The 109s[edit]

The first 109 cask

The 109 casks were launched in November 2012 as a part of The London Distillery Company's involvement with the men's health charity Movember.[23] Each cask was meant to mark 109 years since the last distillery operated in London.

It was announced that the inaugural Plain British Spirit produced at the distillery would fill 109 20-litre casks, each hand-carved with a moustache by London-based carpenters under the guidance of Master Carpenter Robert Randall.

Casks for the 109 range are 100% American oak sourced from American craft distillers with casks being donated by Balcones Distillery of Texas and Kings County Distillery in New York. The 109s were pre-sold before TLDC received its whisky production equipment.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The London Distillery Company Website
  2. ^ Testbed1 Art Space Website
  3. ^ London Town Website - Housed in an ex-dairy warehouse in Battersea, Testbed1 is a creative, experimental arts "space with no agenda" which launched in spring 2010
  4. ^ Whisky Guy whisky blog
  5. ^ Times online - Clampdown on freelancer rules
  6. ^ [The Envestors London Team]
  7. ^ Lea Valley Distillery
  8. ^ The Londonist - London's first whisky distillery in 100 years to start production
  9. ^ Mosley, Charles, editor. Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003.
  10. ^ James Heygate was born on 11 January 1747
  11. ^ Sustaining the Fleet 1793-1815
  12. ^ Joint stock companies with transferrable shares
  13. ^ Crowdcube - The London Distillery Company Pitch
  14. ^ Warmister Maltings Website
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Christian CARL GmbH
  19. ^ Jason Grizzanti, Consulting Distiller at NY Distilling Company
  20. ^ The London Distillery Co's Testbed1 Gin Range
  21. ^ BBC Food - Is boutique gin the tonic for shrinking spirits market? Hannah Briggs
  22. ^ Lascelles, Alice (14 December 2012). "The trend: London's adventurous spirits". Financial Times. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  23. ^ "Whisky for Movember at The London Distillery Company". Whisky Magazine, 18 October 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2013.