From Damson Glut to Award-winning Vodka
In our search for the best British independent producers and sustainability pioneers, Barbury Hill has tried and tasted some standout spirits but few have inspired and delighted us quite as much as Gattertop Drinks. From the rolling hills that surround the ancient farmland to the fruit-laden orchards and timber-framed barn where the distilling and bottling take place, Gattertop captured Barbury Hill’s imagination and our tastebuds. Read on to discover how a glut of damsons led to a blossoming business that fills a gap in the market for botanical vodkas while charting a course in the production of organic, sustainable British spirits.
The postcard-perfect setting of Gattertop Farm could have been lifted straight from the pages of Country Life, with a history that stretches back to the Domesday Book and an idyllic rural location where ancient woodlands peep out from mist-swathed valleys and only remote farmhouses dot the hillsides. Here, in this quintessentially English landscape, a glut of damsons inspired Gattertop founder, Gemma Standeven, to create Damson No.12. The result of much experimenting, tweaking of recipes, and tasting by friends and family is a multiple award-winning taste-sensation. Awarded two stars in its first year by the Great Taste Awards, Damson No.12 is still made to the same, perfect recipe.
Harvested in autumn from the family orchards, the damsons are steeped in premium vodka and distilled in small batches in copper stills in the old barn. Where many brands might speed up the process with syrups, Gattertop take their time, allowing a year for the delicate flavours to infuse the vodka. The precious spirit is then filtered, bottled and labelled by hand without leaving the barn. This is slow, thoughtful production at its best and the care is evident in the taste. A year of steeping allows the almond notes from the stone to add a delicate accent to the rich, fruity flavours of the damson. Here at Barbury Hill we’ve been enjoying it with ginger ale or adding it to a flute of fizz to give our evening an indulgent lift.
After the success of her first step into the world of British spirits, Gemma’s next move has filled a gap in the market for botanical vodkas as an alternative to gin. Botanic No.7 captures the aromas of the Gattertop countryside with its infusion of seven botanics foraged during spring and summer from the orchards, woodlands, hedgerows and gardens of the farm. Like Damson No.12, the leaves, herbs, blossoms and flowers are distilled in small batches in copper stills, creating a clean, crisp vodka that balances the complex flavours of the botanics. Enjoyed as a long drink with tonic or soda, it is a refreshing and enlivening alternative to gin.
When it comes to sustainable and environmentally conscious production, Gattertop’s achievements are as noteworthy as their vodkas. Thanks to the Soil Association certified organic license for their orchards, the removal of artificial fertilisers, and low levels of pesticides, the farm now supports up to 50% more wildlife. The leftover damsons are used in jams and jellies, the vodkas are packed sustainably, with glass, cardboard and recyclable bags, and they aim to be fully carbon neutral by the end of this year. From picking to labelling, the entire process takes place on the farm meaning zero airmiles, and with Barbury Hill your order is delivered direct to your door from theirs.
For both its exquisite taste and sustainability credentials, we’re delighted to bring this award-winning vodka to Barbury Hill’s handpicked selection of tried and tasted food and drink from independent British producers. Whether ordered as a gift for yourself or to add to a food hamper for a loved one, Gattertop’s Damson No.12 and Botanic No.7 deliver a taste of the Herefordshire countryside direct to your home.
by Rebecca Lancaster
Rebecca, a talented writer, is a friend of Barbury Hill’s. When she’s not eating the best of British food and drink, she is writing about it. And when she’s not writing about it, she’s thinking about it.