THE LORD Mayor of Portsmouth, Lee Mason, has officially opened the the Portsmouth Distillery Company at Fort Cumberland.
The opening is the culmination of more than a year’s work for former naval servicemen Vincent Noyce and Giles Collighn and their partner, Dich Oatley.
The idea of starting a local distillery was formulated by Vince after being made redundant.
‘I have always had an interest in rum and the distillery process. In my last job I worked out in the Caribbean where I really developed an understanding of how different rums are made and the whole distilling process. I had talked in the past about setting up a distillery but after being made redundant I was talking to Giles in the pub and we decided it was now or never,’ explained Vince.
All three directors were keen to develop a blend and business which reflects their home city of Portsmouth. The first spirit off the production line was Fort Gin – named after the location of the distillery.
‘As a Portsmouth man I wanted a gin that represents the city. Three of the crucial ingredients we use grow naturally around the fort –elder flower, gorse flower and sea radish,’ explained Vince.
‘All of our products include the star and crescent which represent the city. Each spirit will be 41 per cent which represents the four plus one which makes up the pentagon of the fort,’ added Giles.
The recipe blend was decided upon after professional tasters took part in three secret tasting sessions which unanimously placed their brand ahead of high street rivals.
‘We wanted a blend which was not to harsh on the palate,’ stated Giles.
‘It has an absolutely great flavour which is really mild and gives a nice smooth taste. I will certainly be purchasing the product in the future. It is also brilliant to see the fort being used in the production process as this really does provide a proper taste of Portsmouth,’ added Cllr Mason.
In addition to the Fort Gin, the distillery is also close to the launch of its second product.
‘Before Christmas we will be launching our 1968 rum. We have given it this name as it is the year of both mine and Giles birth,’ explained Vince.
‘As former member of the navy, 25 pence from every bottle is going to help support the Royal Navy and Royal Marines charity,’ he added.
Whilst the product is to be initially sold locally and online, Vince and Giles are hopeful of seeing their local product develop a national and even international market.
‘I am incredibly proud of what is a superb product. Whilst this is the first step we would one day hope to see both our gin and rum sold in national stores such as Waitrose and Sainsburys. We also want to develop the distillery to include a shop and visitor centre,’ explained Vince.