Gin enthusiasts may have noted the gradual increase in the number of boutique distilleries operating in Devon. Salcombe Gin, established by local entrepreneurs Angus Lugsdin and Howard Davies – who met during the 1990s as sailing instructors at Salcombe’s Island Cruising Club before returning to bring to life a mutual dream to set up a distillery – has already scooped awards in Europe and the US despite having been established a mere two years ago. This month, the brand releases the first of its limited edition Voyager series, which has been created in collaboration with top local chef Michael Caines of Exmouth’s renowned Lympstone Manor Country House Hotel.
Named Arabella after a well-known Salcombe schooner that once plied the seas, bringing fruit back to Devon, the 46 per cent ABV gin (£65) has a notable citrus nose and a fresh, slightly floral taste thanks to the inclusion of hibiscus and verbena botanicals. Just 1,200 bottles will be available, each made from white ceramic with a copper stopper and supplied in a presentation box along with a recipe card for a gin cocktail called the Appabella that has been specially created by Caines.
Arabella can be ordered through the firm’s website, or bought direct from the distillery shop in Salcombe’s Island Street, which is also home to the excellent “gin school” at which individuals or pairs craft a gin from scratch in miniature copper stills using their own choice of botanicals. “Pupils” all leave with a bespoke-labelled 75cl bottle of their creation.
A session at the gin school costs £100 per person or £150 per couple, while other services offered by Salcombe Gin include the gin butler, who will arrive at your boat by a high-speed RiB and prepare drinks on board (£500); an on-water gin hamper delivery (from £100); and even the hire of an elegant catamaran, complete with a dedicated gin butler (from £1,700).
Confirmed landlubbers, meanwhile, can sample all that Salcombe Gin has to offer at the distillery’s on-site bar, right beside the picturesque estuary. And believe me – on a typical summer’s evening of the type we’ve enjoyed this season, sundowners seldom come much better…