Southwold favourite adds gin and vodka to the mix

Adnams stillEast Anglia’s much loved coastal brewery, Adnams, stepped outside its comfort zone before Christmas with the launch of its own gin and vodka in a move dubbed “a natural progression” by head brewer, Fergus Fitzgerald.

Although not uncommon on mainland Europe, Adnams is the first UK brewery to add a distillery. “The only reason it hasn’t happened before was that it was illegal,” says Fergus. “But this changed five or six years ago. Brewers could never be distillers before, based on when duty was charged on the amount of grain used rather than the product.

Positioning couldn’t be more scenic, with the Copper House Distillery occupying the original brewhouse, complete with views through the full length window out to the coast and Suffolk’s iconic lighthouse.

“The first part of the extraction – the sugar from the grain – is exactly the same,” says Fergus, a fact illustrated by the experience at Penderyn – its "distillery wash" is prepared to its own specification by Brains brewery in Cardiff. “It's been a steep learning curve,” admits Fergus. “I really like the First Rate Gin.” In keeping with Adnams “sustainable” ethos, the Copper House Distillery is apparently the most energy efficient in the UK, generating half the water and steam required for the brewery.

Adnams botanicals“From a brewing standpoint, we have a whole range of botanicals and spices which may well influence what we do in the future,” adds Fergus. We’re already thinking about doing some spiced beers – bit of cinnamon, bit of orange, bit of juniper…”

Visitors are able to see the Copper House Distillery for themselves. The tours on offer last an hour, cost £10 and include sampling and a discount voucher towards the first purchase.

Life on the Southwold coast may run to a slower rhythm, but it certainly doesn’t stand still.

Tasting reviews to come

For those interested in hearing more about Fergus’s views and what his Desert Island beer and food match is, check out the interview I did for Imbibe, the UK’s award-winning on-trade magazine.