RSS Feeds

Advanced search

You are in:


A passion for nature and artistic expression

The Capreolus distillery based in the heart of England’s picturesque Cotswolds region has launched with a complex craft gin and a range of eaux de vie after more than two years planning and production

Barney Wilczak Capreolus distillery

The Capreolus distillery was founded by distiller and photographer Barney Wilczak. Named after the latin name for the roe deer, which Barney often saw when out collecting fruit and botanicals, the Capreolus distillery focuses on producing small batches of eaux de vie alongside what must be the UK's most complex gin.

Barney spent his early career as a professional photographer specialising in supplying images for conservation stories worldwide. This focus on the natural world, biology and artistic expression, brought about his fascination for natural biological processes, fermentation and creating fruit distillates. His distillery is attached to the house he grew up. An old lean-to greenhouse, a frame of timber and Cotswold stone, was converted to house his custom-made still. 

“The distillery has evolved out of my focus on eaux de vie over the past five or six years,’” says Barney. “Our range comprises seven eaux de vie – some that have never been produced in the UK before. A blood orange eau de vie for example, which I believe is a world first (at 45kg of fruit per litre of spirit you may be able to see why!).

“As a small producer we can pay a huge amount of attention to detail in the preparation and processing of these spirits, something a large producer would find hard to replicate. This extends through to our packaging, traditional letterpress labels and UV resistant bottles. This approach of creating limited editions also provides me with the freedom to concentrate on using specific fruits only in good years and the option to work on rare cultivated and wild fruits.”

This focus, which he confesses as obsessive, has extended to the launch of a gin. “As you are well aware, there are a huge amount of London Dry Gins with a ‘twist’, he says. “Many of these are lovely, well produced products, but I wanted a quite different result. I was aiming to produce a spirit with the same complexity that I have found in my favourite eaux de vie.

“I distilled a vast library of botanicals, finding which one's gave their best through maceration or vapour extraction and rejecting those whose profile was undesirable. Dividing the gin into six different flavour groups, I began blending these botanicals for each group, ultimately blending these groups together. Further test distillations were then undertaken culminating in the recipe that includes 34 different botanicals. This process extended over four months of solid work. The gin is named after the Garden Tiger, a beautiful day flying moth. 

“Hard spices, berries and herbs are soaked in our neutral British wheat spirit for 40 hours. We then suspend fresh blood orange zest and a rich mix of flowers and fragrant leaves above the liquid, their aroma gently extracted by the rising steam.  All the ingredients come together in a slow seven-hour, distillation. It creates a sum much greater than its parts.

“In packaging our Eaux de Vie and gin we take the same care as we do in production. This is laborious and costly but respects the contents. For the design of our artwork we only trust direct family: Get it Sorted, run by my father and brother.  The labels are printed by hand fed letterpress by Andrew Morrison (, my partner’s father. This tactile and traditional form of printing is a work of art. Each label is varied and unique, sharing the care shown in our beautiful products.” 

Our bottles have been constructed of a highly UV resistant glass, protecting the delicate essential oils contained within. The bottles are filled, labelled and corked by hand. Unlike some producers we never chill filter our spirits, a process which strips them of aroma, flavour and texture, purely for aesthetics. This means that our spirits will cloud on dilution or chilling, a sign of quality rather than fault.

"Finally, our corks are produced to our specification. Importantly this supports the rich biodiversity of the cork forests in Portugal. Secondly, it provides a barrier that breathes, creating a further, slow evolution of our product within the bottle. We invite you to savour and enjoy our spirits throughout their life." 

Garden Tiger Gin, 500ml, 47% ABV, batches of 200 bottles. 

1 August 2016