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James Firth – Fishers Gin

James Firth Fishers Gin Interview Southwold Gin
Written by Gin Foundry

Fishers is an English spirit with a a seaside influence and a grand sense of provenance. The gin is backed by a small, but perfectly formed team, having been founded by drinks industry veteran Andrew Heald, distilled by John McCarthy at the Adnams Distillery and designed by James Firth, a botanist from Oxford University who has a somewhat intuitive mind when it comes to the way in which botanicals interact with one another. We caught up with James to find out a little more about the sea themed Gin.

For those who don’t know you – who are you and what do you do?

I’m James Firth a gardener and lecturer, and the Fishers Gin botanist. I studied botany at Oxford University and have spent my life involved with plants.

How did you get into gin and what’s a typical day like for you now?

I got into gin when I was approached by Andrew and Rodolphe, the founders of Fishers gin who were intent on finding a selection of historical British botanicals that no one else was using. This was exciting and the start of a year long project travelling, sourcing and cultivating whenever I could. A typical day now entails slightly less cultivating and more planning at the desk! Orders for next year are growing daily and I need to be sure that all the right herbs are of completely organic provenance, sustainably sourced, carefully prepared, and in the right place at the right time.

Fishers is a real seaside gin, featuring beach grown botanicals like bog myrtle and rock samphire. How did you strike a balance between the provenance of ingredients and the quality of the overall gin?

The key is to use the English botanicals to add complexity and layering. We wished to retain an exotic and essentially Juniper driven taste, whilst at the same time adding pungency from these wild, aromatic, English herbs and woody plants. The gin is richly blended so that the different notes appear in layers, and deliver a lingering finish.

The gin is made at the Adnams Distillery in Southwold. How did you come to team up with them?

Andrew is from Aldeburgh just down the road from Adnams and has a family connection to the company. Apart from that the position of the distillery, quality of the barley and distilling expertise of John McCarthy made it a natural choice.

Why did you choose to tie the branding in so closely with fishermen? It’s such a distinct identity – what’s behind the idea, was it something personal?

I think we all felt that the East coast of Suffolk has a very special atmosphere, much of it coming from the huge bleak skies, rolling waves and wooden fishing huts on shingle beaches. The lives of our fisherman and the shores they leave and return to is beautiful and timeless, we believe that Fishers Gin displays some of the bounty that may be found around them. Naturally it should be a defining feature of the gin.
For the export market there is particular interest in this remote British coast and the unusual provenance it brings, rather than the traditional focus on London or quintessentially English branding.

The bottle is very beautiful – who came up with the concept?

The bottle was created by Gilbert Lopez, a designer from Paris. He visited Aldeburgh and spent three days on the the shingle, quite amazed that people were swimming in April! He like the idea of the Fishing net combined with a fishersman’s lantern and was inspired by the vibrant colours of the nets compared to the grey skies and pebbles.

You were working on a Sloe Gin when we last spoke to you – how is that coming along? Do you plan to create other variants?

There are various projects planned, all are progressing, but it would be premature to discuss them now as they are still developing…

Fishers Gin