Will Edge – Greensand Ridge
Greensand Ridge is a Kent-based distillery that overlooks the most glorious countryside you can imagine. Its co-founder, Will Edge, is a green-minded creator who seeks to protect the environment that surrounds him as he works with it to create mind-boggling spirits. We caught up hm to see how the distillery’s getting along in this new year, and to hear all about his aged gins.
2018 saw you add to the range, with two Cask Aged Gins now in the line up. How long did it take to create them and what made you pick the cask aged genre?
Will Edge: Cask maturation is a bit of a thing at Greensand Ridge – we currently have five different spirits in cask – so it suits our approach of taking time to get interesting and differentiated spirits to market. Our Rye cask variant took about 8 months of work (six versions of our London Dry on different woods for two months at a time). Less for the PX as I was more learned by then!
Ageing is always a dark art and so much is up to chance. Did you hope for a particular set of flavours to emerge in the process?
In our Rye cask there is an even contribution of gin and cask, so getting the gin character right is still critical. Yes, casks will vary in character somewhat but as long as the casks are from the same producer then the key thing to get right is time-in-cask, so regular tasting is vital! We ended up settling on Rye particularly for its fruitier, astringent quality which works well with the floral / woodland character of our gin.
Do you have a preferred serve suggestion for the PX Cask Gin, or an alternative mixer recommendation perhaps?
Our PX cask gin has a more dominant character from the cask – it reminds me of being in a coastal pine forest on a baking hot day – and demands a bolder companion in the serve. I particularly like ginger ale with this spirit but it makes an all-time classic Negroni.
Are they going to be permanent additions to the range in terms of “that’s the style for Rye Cask, and that’s the PX,” or are you letting each cask impart it’s wonder and seeing how it goes?
These are both very much part of the family – a whiskey cask and a sherry cask with purposeful approaches to both. We use other whiskeys and sherries for rums and brandies, which warrant different treatment of their own.
You make more than just Gin at Greensand Ridge. As a distiller, what are you most proud about having made?
Well my first love is the apple, and I can count my cider making days in decades now! Our apple brandy is the second spirit I made, but the sixth to be released due to time in cask. It’s an under-represented drink in this country in my opinion, and can stand alongside whisky in terms of complexity. That said, it’s technically much simpler to make then other spirits, with rum probably being the most demanding.
You are not the only maker at the distillery either, in that you also host distilling experiences there. They look great – how have they gone down so far?
I love them. Being in the company of true aficionados for a few hours and letting them get hands-on distilling experience in the atmosphere of a working distillery; what could be better! does wonders for the ego as well.
A big part of the distillery is its sustainable ethos. Do you feel that craft distilling is greener as an industry since when you first set up or is it slow progress?
Not as a general rule, but there are a few distilleries at the forefront of the movement who are doing amazing things and really separating themselves from the rest. Like so many things it’s a mix of the truly inspirational and the frustrating. I trust consumers to know greenwashing when they see it!
What are a few easy steps that distillers can do to help improve their footprint. You’ve built your own heat recovery system, no?
We released our first sustainability report in January this year and one of the main reasons was to share our experiences with other distillers and act as a checklist for anyone setting up. One of the easiest & most impactful things is using renewable power sources – green electricity or biofuel. The hardest, and the one we need to crack as an industry, is low carbon distribution. Our homemade heat recovery system saves 15% energy.
How big is Greensand Ridge nowadays and what are working towards as the ideal goal for production by the end of 2019?
We are still best known in London and the South East and so we still have a lot of work to do to take our spirits to a wider audience. We won Best UK Craft Rum last year and Best Cask Aged Gin and so we have a good platform on which to grow. We’re also filling about 30 casks a year at current rates so are obviously planning for growth!
Lastly – what’s your favourite part of the job?
I’ve said it before – nothing beats seeing a social media post of one of our spirits bringing a smile to a couple of fans’ faces after a day in the office.
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