of Peachey’s Spirits
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Janet Peachey of Peachey’s Norfolk Dry Gin at her distillery deep in the Norfolk countryside.
Located on a farm where there is also a brewery her distillery window looks out on to an idyllic farmscape. The day I visited she was making onion marmalade. Her distillery kitchen was full of the wonderful aroma of the onion chutney bubbling away on her stove. I couldn’t resist giving it a stir.
Janet: “It really is a great place to work and the views are fantastic. My mood always lifts when I arrive at the farm.”
Janet is something of a flavour expert. She has long been making preserves, for 14 years in fact, and Peachey’s Preserves is just one of her businesses, all foodie based.
Janet: “Flavour comes first. There is no point otherwise.”
Jars and bottles and fruit waiting to be preserved, or made into something a bit stronger, were everywhere in abundance.
From making preserves it was a logical step to making fruit liqueurs.
Quince brandy was the first in 2014. Indeed, while I was there Janet showed me boxes of windfall quinces waiting to be infused in brandy.
She rapidly expanded to making Fragola (strawberry), Seville marmalade, Goosegog, Raspberry and Rhubarb & Ginger gin liqueur. As well as Hips, Haws & Chilli and Damson vodkas, Redcurrant whisky liqueur and a Bramble rum liqueur. And of course sloe gin.
The majority of her fruits are sourced locally from orchards or hedgerows or donated by willing friends: apples, blackberries, plums, quinces, sloes, hips and haws. I’m sure I’ve missed a few out.
Janet: “The ethos of my business is to use windfall and surplus fruits from my parents’ garden and other local neighbours. I also gather apples here on the farm and have a lady who lives nearby who forages for blackberries, hips and haws for me.”
Her experience in concocting preserves and liqueurs means she doesn’t hang about when it comes to marrying flavours together. Her touch is swift and sure. A lot of heart goes into the making of her gins and liqueurs and it shows.
Janet: “Initially, I based some of the flavour combinations on my jams and jellies that I make. For example, the Hips, Haws & Chilli Jelly was just crying out to be turned into a Vodka Liqueur! Ideas also just float into my head and as well as that, my customers sometimes ask me to develop a certain recipe for them and then I will have to work out the flavour combination – Being a preserve maker all these years helps!”
These artisan fruit liqueurs proved so popular that in 2015 after literally stumbling upon her still, called appropriately Lucky, while at a craft distilling expo in London, Janet turned her attention to gin. Peachey’s Norfolk Dry Gin was born. While some craft distillers will tell you that it took them a long 8 months and 30 experiments to perfect their recipe, Janet, with her vast knowledge of flavours “tweaked” her recipe just twice before she hit the sweet spot.
Lucky is one of the smallest stills I have seen at only 30L and has pride of place close to her windowsill looking out over the Waveney Valley. It is an American still. And I sure did have still-envy while looking at it.
Janet: “Lucky is a modular stainless steel pot still. She produces about 18 litres of spirit and takes 8 hours to run.”
Norwich Gin Club’s Battle of the Norfolk Gins
It was at Norwich Gin Club’s Battle of the Norfolk Gins that I first tasted Janet’s Norfolk Dry Gin. Although Norfolk Dry didn’t win that night, for me and several others there it was a clear winner. And yet it was a gin I had often passed over on the gin shelf at my local store. I think because Janet shies away from publicity, and she will be the first to admit a bit of a shrinking violet on social media, that I didn’t really know much about the gin to buy it. Before I buy a gin I usually have a pretty good idea about it first.
Norfolk Dry Gin is a well-rounded zesty gin with a hint of cardamom and sweet vanilla. The botanicals are juniper, coriander, angelica root, orris root, cardamom, liquorice root, vanilla, lemon and sweet orange, bottled at a decent 43%ABV.
Janet: “I developed the recipe for my 50th Birthday and wanted the gin to smell of citrus which is summery and yet have some depth – hence the hint of cardamom. I also like vanilla. It is one of my favourite spices and I wanted that long sweet finish which it brings to the pot.”
While I was there I was lucky enough to taste her Noel Gin, a limited Christmas edition from last year which she is thinking of reviving for this festive season. Key botanicals are cinnamon, allspice and star anise. The three marry so well together that neither is dominant. Noel Gin paired with ginger ale makes a very festive G&T. I will be first in the queue.
I asked Janet if she had any plans for future flavours?
Janet: “Yes I love roses and grow lots of them so I am thinking Rose Petal Gin.”
Janet’s gin and liqueurs are available in stockists mainly in Norfolk.
But if you would like a delicious bottle, and who wouldn’t, you can also purchase them from her website here.
Also, find her on Facebook
The Grain Brewery is located at South Farm, Alburgh, Harleston, Norfolk, IP20 0BS.