In a market that is bursting with great artisan spirits, we are all looking for that little bit more, that something special. So with an awarding-winning taste, unique production methods and a wonderful story behind it Colwith Farm Distillery really should be on everyone’s lips.
Colwith Farm near Fowey was bought by Stafford Dustow in 1904. He initially began growing potatoes there as part of the war effort. Flash forward more than a century and today the farm is in the hands of the fifth generation of the Dustow family. This is very much a family business. Grandfather Clive takes care of the farm’s animals, father Michael and his son Clive look after the potato production. They produce around 300 acres potatoes every year. But these days it’s for local chip shops and veg stalls as well as large manufacturers such as Burts and McCains.
Then a few years ago brother’s Steve and Chris Dustow came up with the idea of diverting just a few of those home-grown potatoes and producing their own Cornish Potato Vodka. It was their way of diversifying to ensure that the success of the farm would continue on to the next and sixth generation.
Steve said ” . . . If we can’t produce spirits from our own crops, on our own farm, offering true provenance and authenticity, then this project isn’t for us.”
And their ambitious idea has been a huge success!
Cornwall’s First Plough to Bottle Distillery
Just a few days ago that vodka, which they named Aval Dor (the Cornish for potato) beat intense global competition to win Silver at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirit Competition!
The competition, which was founded in 2000, is one of the most influential in the spirit world and this year had a record breaking 3000 entries from all across the globe. It was the first time that Colwith Farm had entered, so to come away with a Silver is exceptional.
Colwith Farm is the only ‘plough to bottle’ distillery in Cornwall
Their growing success in what is a very competitive market is without doubt due to the passion put into every bottle. Whereas most craft distilleries buy in the base spirit Colwith is the first gin and vodka distillery in Cornwall – and one of only a handful in the UK – to bring the whole process under one roof. They are also very proud to be one of only two distillery’s in the South West that can claim that ‘plough to bottle’ status. They even use their own spring water and foraged botanicals in the process!
Located at Lanlivery near Fowey, the new state-of-the-art facility includes the main production area. Here the King Edward potatoes grown on the family farm are mashed, fermented and distilled. Colwith Farm also uses a unique still – a Polish Stripper Still. This amazing bit of kit is one of only 2 in the whole of the UK and only 57 in the world.
The Gin Creations
Stafford’s Gin, which Steve named after his great, great grandfather, followed the Aval Dor vodka in 2015. It uses the vodka as its base spirit, along with 14 delicately mixed botanicals. The team spent hundreds of hours creating hundreds of different gins before they perfected the Stafford Gin’s signature taste.
This gin has an exquisitely distinctive, citrusy taste.
It is infused with delicate selection of botanicals. Most of the botanicals are foraged on the farm. Including lemon balm, rosemary and bay and then juniper, coriander, lime zest, almond & macadamia sourced from further afield.
Because of their unique self-sufficient set up Colwith Farm continues to innovate and create their own individual blends. They have created a beautiful Rose and Hibiscus Vodka and have also infused their Stafford’s Gin with rhubarb and ginger. And in 2016 Steve set about creating Fowey River Gin. This is wonderful and unique collaboration which really speaks to the farm’s spirit of working with and for the Cornish community. To produce this gin Steve joined forces with Haye Farm in St Veep, the oldest traditional cider maker in the world. Haye Farm Cider is a small family business too. They have been making cider on their farm since the thirteenth century and still use very traditional methods to this day. The collaboration resulting in Fowey River Gin, a gorgeous gin with a subtle apple cider tang.
The Taste Test
There are a few ways that you can try Colwith Farm Distillery’s amazing products for yourself. You can pop into the distillery. The farm’s new visitor’s centre, which opened last year, has a bar for sampling the spirits, as well as a shop so you can take some home with you.
You could do what I did and go on one of their fascinating Guided Distillery Tours (held at 2pm every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday). Learn all about the vodka and gin making process as well as sampling the spirits afterwards.
Or alternatively you could dabble in the art of distillation! They run Gin Masterclasses! In these 3 – 4 hr sessions you will be shown by their master-distiller how to distil your very own gin. Create your own recipe, before bottling and labelling it and taking it home!
For more information and to book any of the experiences pop over to their website HERE
Author’s Note: I was not paid for this review but was the distillery’s guest for one of their Guided Tours.
To see my other reviews of Cornwall’s best performances, places, products and books pop over to my REVIEWS page!
How about combining your visit to the distillery with a gorgeous walk near by?!