Try new gin and vodka brands Flint and Harding at Suffolk Show
Spirits are distilled using East Anglian sugar beet.
We’ve said it time and time again. The craft spirit industry is becoming huge globally, but especially in the UK. And in our small corner of the world, some truly incredible makers are popping up on a regular basis.
One of the latest to make a splash is Flint and Harding, whose gin and vodkas were created by Chrissie and Paul Charie on their Suffolk farm in response, unusually, to their daughter’s pickle business.
Chrissie says: “My daughter Florence has a company called The Pickle House and she started making pickle juice. When they were in New York she and her boyfriend were served a cocktail called The Pickle Back. It was a shot of whisky followed by a shot of pickle juice. She’d come out of graphic design to set up The Pickle House Company and decided to make a Bloody Mary mix so I thought, why not make the vodka to go into it?”
Chrissie admits it was a bit of flight of fancy at the time. She’d never made vodka before but was inspired by Mr Chase, who makes vodka with potatoes from his family farm. “My father is a third generation farmer. My great grandfather started the farm in Bacton and they were very early adopters of growing sugar beet. We don’t have the soil for potatoes here, so I researched sugar beet to see if we could use it to make alcohol and we did that. I spent a lot of time cleaning and mashing and peeling which is a lot of work. So I went to the sugar beet factory in Bury St Edmunds and met Mark Culloden there who has been the most enormous help.”
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With the aid of the team at the sugar factory, East Anglian sugar beet is turned into a sugar syrup for Chrissie, who ferments it with water and yeast before transferring the mix to a “very 21st century” still, bought from the Netherlands.
The spirit goes through 40 distillations and is diluted back from 96% alcohol to 40% in the finished Flint Vodka.
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But Chrissie didn’t stop there- oh no. She was on a roll. After all, once you’ve got vodka it’s a simple leap to make gin, right?
The vodka goes back into the still, and baskets of juniper, coriander, angelica root, burdock, rose petals, orange and rosemary are added to infuse the vapours to make Hardings Gin.
“Someone said I’d created a gin for the non-gin drinker. I love it and I never used to drink gin,” Chrissie proclaims, adding, “most gin makers buy in a base syrup so they’ll all have a similar character, whereas using sugar beet as a base is completely different. It’s wonderful.”
You can try both the gin and vodka at Suffolk Show, once a month at Wyken Farmers’ Market, at Stowmarket Food and Drink Festival in July and hopefully at the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival later in the year.
It’s also on sale at The Leaping Hare, The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds, The Weeping Willow in Barrow and Scutchers in Long Melford.