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New craft distillery to open in London's East End

Felicity Murray talks to the East London Liquor Company, which is set to launch in April as the first distillery to produce gins, whisky and vodka in East London for over a century

Alex Wolpert East London Liquor Company

Situated on the southern edge of Victoria Park in one of the area’s most well known historical sites, the old glue factory in Bow Wharf, the distillery will produce a range of handcrafted spirits from two copper stills, 450-650 litres at a time. This will include two super premium, artisanal gins, a quintessential London dry gin, a smooth artisanal vodka and a whisky that will be aged in bourbon barrels on site for a minimum of three years. It will also import its own brand of rum from Demerara Distillers in Guyana.

Design agency Stranger & Stranger is working on the branding and packaging design for the first products, which will be launched in May.

The founder of distillery is Alex Wolpert (pictured left) the former operations manager at London bars and restaurants group Barworks where he spent seven years launching and managing operations for an extensive portion of the group’s venues.

Barworks is one of a small number of stakeholders who are sharing expertise, resources and investment to make Alex’s long held ambition a reality.

“With the launch of East London Liquor Company, we want to revive East London’s rich legacy of spirits manufacturing.” He said. “The craft spirits trade went through a huge and successful resurgence in the US, and now the UK is experiencing a similar renaissance, with several city distilleries popping up across the capital over the past 10 years. The East London Liquor Company distillery isn’t opening until April but we already have numerous bars lined up to take our gins, vodka, rum and whisky – London clearly has an appetite for quality and locally produced spirits.”

Jamie Baxter (pictured right) is the master distiller for the new business. Jamie helped establish Chase distillery and founded the City of London Distillery before leaving to focus on the launch of East London Liquor Company. “The opening of the East London Liquor Company marks a really exciting step for London’s craft spirit industry. When we open in April, we will be the only London distillery producing and importing four premium spirits and the first to bring the industry back to the East End – where it all started for English spirits.

“The launch is part of a wider craft distilling renaissance which, inspired by the success of small-scale distilleries in the US, is reviving the capital’s heritage of spirits production. This is the first distillery to open in the east of London since the Lea Valley Distillery, where the Olympic Park now stands, closed in the early 20th century.”

The distillery will also offer tours, spirit tastings and ‘make your own batch‘ sessions with Jamie. Visitors will also be able to enjoy range of bespoke cocktails created by head mixologist Piyush Chavda at a cocktail bar, which features a large glass wall between the bar and the distillery so that drinkers can watch the spirits being made while enjoying them.

17 March 2014