The Story of Fishers Smoked
Ben Bewley-Pope, Fishers Gin Distiller
As we embark on our fifth batch of Fishers Smoked Gin, the world's first smoked London Dry Gin, I wanted to reflect on the journey so far...
Fishers Smoked was born from a love of whiskey and smoky culinary flavours shared by Andrew and I. The Suffolk Coast has a large history of fishing and smokehouses, and during lockdown our desire to capture the smokey experience of a peated whiskey but in a gin became a reality. From inception to production, the process took us a year, and included many iterations and several failed attempts!
So much of the Fishers story is centred on the River Alde and River Ore, and with Orford being the home of one of the world’s best smokehouses, Pinney’s, the collaboration began!
The smokers at Pinney's
Pinney’s smokehouse is a 30 minute drive from Aldeburgh, situated on the banks of the beautiful Butley Creek. Famous for their oak smoked products and their own Oysters, Pinney’s is a 3rd generation family run business, using traditional methods and recipes that have been passed down through father to son.
To this day, as with all Fishers gins, Smoked is an evolving process, with our main goal to stay true to the gin’s original properties, but strive to achieve the best possible results from distilling. With minor tweaks here and there, the fifth and latest batch of Smoked is set to be the best one yet!
Pinney's of Orford is situated on the picturesque Butley Creek
When it came to choosing the botanicals to smoke, there were some additional challenges we hadn’t faced before. The botanicals used are classic, but with a high surface area, so lots of peels and woody roots, to maximise the amount of smoke we can capture from the smoking process. Some of the delicate botanicals found in our Original and Fifty gins wouldn’t survive a week in the smoker.
Placing the botanicals in the smoker
The botanicals are placed in heavy duty hessian sacks and tied up in the smoker at Pinney’s for at least five days, depending on Pinney’s schedule. Throughout the collaboration, I work closely with Bill Pinney to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Ben & Bill Pinney
Given that the production of Smoked is still an evolving process, I make minor adjustments each time, including experimenting with different smoke chambers and temperatures to achieve the best balance, intensity and flavour. It’s all about the balance between botanicals and smoke, whilst retaining the essence of a London Dry Gin.
Before retrieving the smoked botanicals from Pinney’s, I prepare the still, then drive to Orford to collect. I drive straight back to the distillery and put them in the still to soak overnight, so distilling can begin the next day. This ensures none of the smokiness is lost in storage, to achieve maximum flavour in the gin!
Placing the smoked botanicals in our still, "Watson"
The distilling process takes a whole day, and I operate Watson (our still) in a different way to how I would when distilling Original or Fifty, once again to get the best possible results from the smoked botanicals.
After the distilling process is complete, the gin is stored in its own holding tank, where it will rest for at least a week to allow the oils and compounds to marry, before the bottling process begins.
Fishers Smoked Gin - the world's first smoked London Dry Gin
Fishers Smoked is best served in a "Mule" style. Our Red Herring cocktail is made up of a single measure of Fishers Smoked, 2 pieces of lime (squeezed and dropped) , topped with ginger ale, all served over ice. A refreshing summer drink yet also a warming winter tipple, thanks to the ginger ale.
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