Meet the Maker: River Test Distillery | Barbury Hill

Meet the Maker: River Test Distillery

River Test Distillery so perfectly encapsulates Barbury Hill’s ‘raison ‘d’être’ that we just had to feature them as part of our offering of small, independent British producers. Their award-winning small-batch gins are a shining example of the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that characterises so many of our makers, and we delved into their story to find out just what it is that sets them apart and makes River Test gin one to watch.

Deciding to follow their dreams, River Test founders Sarah and Jonathan Nelson joined a distilling course in 2017 and have never looked back. From this one course they went onto another in The Netherlands where they came across the iStill, an innovative method of production that allows them absolute control over the distillation process. Combining this modern method with their refined palate and undeniable passion resulted in a gin that has won accolades from across the industry, including Best English London Dry at the World Gin Awards in 2020.

Of course, while the high-tech approach allows them to craft a perfect product each and every time, it is the recipe and ingredients that make the difference between merely drinkable and award-winning. Initially inspired by the ‘gin-clear’ waters of the River Test that flow by their home in Hampshire, Sarah and Jonathan now use the chalk-filtered water from the aquifer that feeds this river to craft a smooth and crisp gin. Hints of florals and meadowsweet bring to mind the delicate blooms of an English country garden, orchards heavy with fruit, and rambling honeysuckle. Whether poured with a premium tonic or enjoyed neat over ice, the distinctive flavours and elegant palate make for a refreshing and memorable drink.

 River Test Gin, 2020 winners at the World Gin Awards, available on Barbury Hill  River Test, inspiration for River Test Gin, available on Barbury Hill

As with all of Barbury Hill’s handpicked products, River Test has been chosen in part due to its focus on preserving and improving the natural environment. Along with the low-mileage and zero-air miles that make British produce so important, Sarah and Jonathan have committed to conserving the meadows and waters that surround the distillery, and we were delighted to discover that, under their stewardship, water voles have returned to the river and conditions in the meadows have also improved.

Though a relative newcomer to the scene, we’re confident that River Test will go from strength to strength and we’re proud to feature them at Barbury Hill. Be the first to tell your friends about this award-winning gin, or even better, why not send them a bottle with a personalised note from Barbury Hill?

 Shop River Test Gin, available on Barbury Hill



Rebecca, Copywriter

by Rebecca Lancaster, Copywriter

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.