_Dyfi Distillery isn’t just the first commercial distillery in Mid Wales. Its Hibernation Gin is also number one on The Independent’s list of the 10 Best New Gins. Co-founder Danny Cameron explains what makes it so special._
Over the last year or so we’ve produced three different gins. Our first was Dyfi Original, our ‘classic’ gin, using ingredients that are available to forage between about Easter and September.
The second expression of year was Pollination Gin, which we released on World Gin Day (11 June 2016). That one draws on a more floral range of botanicals and is a little more contemporary in style.
Finally, we produced Hibernation Gin towards the end of the summertime. That one leaned more towards more autumnal foraged ingredients and was aged in a white port barrel. We’ve had great reviews for all of the gins, but Hibernation has made a really big splash, topping The Independent’s list of the 10 Best New Gins and receiving an IndyBest Best Buy Award. We are both humbled and delighted by this news. Hibernation Gin is a world-first in terms of this very specific barrel-ageing and it’s an amazing compliment.
Feedback like this really vindicates our decision to build our business here. My brother Pete has lived in the Dyfi area for 35 years. He forages, keeps bees and has a small farm here. I’ve spent 30 years in the drinks industry. We were having a chat a few years ago and we ended up discussing Dyfi as the perfect place to set up a craft distillery where we could make amazing gin using local spring water and foraged ingredients. It started off as a fantasy, but we eventually realised that it was something that we should actually do.
There’s a combination of factors that make the Dyfi area ideal. The diversity of the botanicals here is genuinely astonishing. There are very few places in Europe that have this level of diversity, which is why the place is recognised as a UNESCO World Biosphere. There’s also the water. It’s of such high quality that you couldn’t ask for better for distilling. Combined with my brother’s local knowledge, it just means that this is the perfect place to be.
We always wanted to challenge the conventions of craft distilleries. Very often, small distilleries aren’t open to the public. We decided that we wanted our business to have a public face so that people could come along, see the process and engage with us. That’s what led us to set up in Corris Craft Centre. We’ve already had people through the door who were experienced distillers themselves. They’ve been really interested in what we’re doing, so having those face to face conversations is a real luxury for us.
We’re all about quality over quantity. If we have one overriding ideal, it’s to produce truly world class gin. It’s a big and exciting market, and we want to make something that will sell not only across the UK, but across the world. It absolutely has to stand on its own merits. It has to be of a very high quality level, but it equally has to be distinctive and reflect a sense of place.
Our two biggest challenges are seasonality and time. Foraging effectively, sustainably and responsibly isn’t a speedy process. It’s very time consuming to make sure we’re doing the right thing for both the environment and the gin. As for seasonality, we try to turn that challenge into an opportunity to produce gins with real personality. It’s a very boutique operation, so our plan is to keep doing a small number of things really well.