From bud to bottle: The making of Trinity Hall Gin

Pink rose petals in a clear vase

In the winter of 2017, a preliminary visit was conducted where Head Gardener Sam met with the team from Cambridge Distillery and walked the grounds of Trinity Hall together to establish a feeling for what was growing where. The idea for Trinity Hall gin was to encapsulate the aromatic quality of a British country garden, with its freshness and vibrant tones.

One of the key botanicals selected for the final gin was rose from Central Site, which has a really punchy, Turkish Delight quality, and was sourced over three separate careful, respectful harvests, in order to avoid destroying the roses. The pairing selected for the rose was choisya, from the gardens at Wychfield. Choisya, sometimes referred to as Sundance, is a flowering shrub which – rather conveniently for the freak weather we’ve been experiencing this year – is drought tolerant. The choisya and the rose stood out really strongly as a pair: rose because of its purity and identifiability, and choisya because it’s such an extraordinary and unusual flavour.

The gin was created at the Distillery in Grantchester where the pressure within the stills is controlled and altered to vary the temperature at which the alcohol evaporates. Under normal circumstances, ethanol – pure potable alcohol – will evaporate at 78.3°C. By subjecting the starting solution to a vacuum, and reducing the atmospheric pressure, the evaporation point can be reduced to as low as 22°C. Lower temperatures make the process more energy-efficient and safer, but it also avoids ‘cooking’ the fresh botanicals, thereby avoiding any stewed or confected flavours. Each botanical is distilled separately and the process continues with blending, bottling, labelling, and wax-sealing by hand in Grantchester until the bottled gin is complete.

Trinity Hall Gin was launched in July 2018 and is available to purchase from Kathryn on merchandise@trinhall.cam.ac.uk or 01223 332562. A 70cl bottle of gin costs £75 (collection) or £85 (Special Delivery to a UK address). Please note overseas delivery is not available.

This article was first published in the autumn 2018 issue of Front Court magazine.