Three years on from my first interview with the owner of the UK’s smallest distillery Hamish Lothian is a happy man enjoying life and having fun experimenting with his stills and bringing an array of skillfully crafted spirits to us, he no longer runs the country’s smallest distillery since moving to new larger premises under the railway arches in Exeter’s St Thomas area.
Experience brings confidence and confidence delivers style which is how I would describe his range – stylish! The original recipes have all been refined and have become more polished including his Bad Fagin’s Devon Gin which is very smooth, the spices are warming and the fresh orange on the finish is intense.
After tasting Devon Gin, Hamish brings out a second gin not yet labelled so the cloudiness is clearly visible through the clear glass bottle. Cloudy Gins are not uncommon as the botanicals are full of essential oils (in particular the juniper berries and citrus peels) these oils dissolve during distillation and are held in the ethanol solution, when water is added (during the cutting process) the oils drop out of the solution causing a milky cloud, this is known as louching. Many distillers will try to avoid louching by controlling the botanicals or filtering (which can cause loss of delicate flavours) instead Hamish has embraced the louche effect and named this gin ‘Ghost’ – great! A cloudy spirit called Ghost is pretty inspired. The mere fact the recipe has double the juniper of his Devon Gin obviously contributes to the cloudiness, this recipe also includes liquorice and green anise, he explains that he’s still fine tuning it but I know this is going to be a sure hit.
Next to taste is his four times distilled charcoal filtered wheat Vodka named ‘Militant’. Wow! At 42% the alcohol is ridiculously smooth and one of the best vodka’s I’ve ever tasted. This product is a pure labour of love and made in such tiny quantities it’s unlikely you’ll be able to buy a bottle anywhere.
This is followed by Hamish’s ‘Apple Pie Moonshine’, another intensive process which Hamish admits has taken many months to perfect, the base spirit is grain alcohol which is blended with apple juice concentrate, apple syrup, demerara sugar and cinnamon. The process can’t be rushed therefore production is very time consuming but the result is a real crowd pleaser, one sip and you are hooked.
We finish with Absinthe le Cochon Fee. Based on an 1895 Swiss recipe Hamish searched Europe for the botanicals and religiously followed the recipe resulting in a 72% spirit. This was served in authentic reservoir glasses with a sugar cube suspended on an absinthe spoon while ice cold water dripped over the cube and into the glass to dilute the aniseed spirit by two thirds. The drink is so beautiful I had a second, but a word of warning I did lose most of the following day!
Bad Fagin’s Apple Pie Moonshine
70cl | 35%
Possibly one of Exeter’s most infamous locally made spirits, Rob Lothian has donned his lab coat once again to produce his flagship Apple Pie Moonshine.
This dreamy, spiced apple spirit used to be made in the rafters above The Fat Pig pub in Central Exeter. Opened initially by Hamish Lothian, not only was it the UK’s first commercial micro-distillery, he also distilled Exeter’s very first gin.
Crafted with passion and expertise, this artisanal moonshine pays homage to the legendary Fagin; a character known for his mischievous nature and love for the finer things in life. Just like its namesake, Bad Fagin’s Apple Pie Moonshine is a tantalising concoction that captures the essence of tradition and craftsmanship.
Exeter Distillery, nestled in the heart of the picturesque English countryside, is a distillery steeped in history and expertise. With a commitment to quality and an unwavering dedication to their craft, Exeter Distillery has gained a reputation for producing exceptional spirits. Rob painstakingly selects the finest ingredients and employ time-honoured techniques to ensure each bottle of their moonshine is a testament to their unwavering commitment to excellence.
The process of creating Bad Fagin’s Apple Pie Moonshine is a harmonious blend of art and science. Handpicked, sun-ripened apples are carefully pressed to extract their purest juices, which are then fermented to achieve the perfect balance of sweetness and complexity. This exquisite base is then infused with a secret blend of spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg, and a hint of clove, adding a warm and comforting dimension to the spirit. The result is a harmonious marriage of crisp apple notes and a rich, spiced undertone that dances on the palate.
Bad Fagin’s Apple Pie Moonshine delights the senses with its array of captivating flavours.
The initial burst of juicy apple greets the taste buds, followed by the gentle warmth of cinnamon and nutmeg that lingers on the tongue.
A subtle hint of clove adds depth, creating a beautifully rounded and satisfying experience.
This artisanal moonshine is a harmonious balance of sweet and spicy, ensuring a taste that is both familiar and delightfully unique.
Bad Fagin’s Apple Pie Moonshine is the older sibling of Bad Fagin’s Pear Moonshine
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