The secrets of Silent Pool, the ultra-premium gin from Surrey


5 aprile 2024

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The Surrey hills are an area of outstanding natural beauty in south-eastern England. This is where Ian McCulloch, together with a group of friends, found the perfect location to found Silent Pool Distillers, the distillery producing a unique ultra-premium London Dry Gin of the same name.

“Surrey is such a stunning area,” says Ian McCulloch. “I was surprised that there weren’t more distillers there already. I really wanted to capture its palette and create Surrey in a bottle of gin. I identified a gap in the market in the ultra-premium luxury gin space and wanted to create something that showcased a future-looking, modern high-end Britain. I was inspired by true British icons of crafts like Vivienne Westwood, Range Rover and David Linley.”

The story of Silent Pool Distillers began in 2013, drawing inspiration from the stunning beauty of a natural pool called Silent Pool. Its distinctive crystal-clear water is naturally filtered as rainwater seeps through a chalk bed, which purifies it and gives it its typical aqua green color – a feature that has given rise to several legends over the centuries.

The oldest dates back to the early thirteenth century and tells the tragic story of Emma, the young daughter of a woodcutter, who while bathing in the pool was noticed by a knight who tried to attack her. In a desperate attempt to fend off her attacker, the young woman drowned. On discovering what had happened, her father found the knight's hat on the ground, which bore the coat of arms of no less than the evil Prince John Lackland. Even today an eerie quiet envelops the pool, which seems to carry the weight of these ancient events.

The creation of the distillery

When they arrived in Surrey, McCulloch and his friends decided to turn some dilapidated farm buildings into a distillery. They started with a vintage wood-fired steam boiler fueling a 350-liter hand-built copper still.

It's not just the beauty of the place inspiring them, but also a little-known fact: "Historically the area of Surrey Hills we're in used to be covered in juniper bushes – this is referenced in the nearby Juniper Hill and Juniper House, the name of a local manor house," explains McCulloch. "English juniper is no longer here in abundance and is now a protected species, but we feel inspired that the juniper bushes were at this location even though we source them from elsewhere."

Juniper aside, Silent Pool Distillers largely sources local ingredients and invests in a continuous research process to create a unique gin reflecting their love for this region and its very essence.

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The production process

When asked about the most important lessons he learned during the distillery's creation process, McCulloch was very honest: "I've not got a distiller background so there's been various times where I quite simply, had to Google things. Or had to reach out to subject matter experts and invest in their expertise, which is what we did when looking for a unique bottle for our gin.”

The process for the creation of Silent Pool Gin is divided into 4 main steps.

  • Maceration of herbaceous botanicals: the pungent, herbaceous and bitter botanicals that make up the recipe are steeped for 24 hours in a vat filled with neutral cereal spirit and water. These include coriander seeds, cardamom, cubeb, bitter orange peel, juniper from Serbia, angelica and licorice root.
  • The floral and volatile botanicals are instead steeped for 24 hours in a smaller vat filled with neutral cereal spirit. Among the known ingredients are lavender, rose, elderflower, chamomile.
  • Before distillation, a basket with fresh botanicals (fresh orange and lime peel, dried pear, juniper from North Macedonia among others) is placed on top of the still. During distillation, the alcohol vapor rises out of the still and through the botanicals, adding character to the gin.
  • The customized hybrid stills now in use at the distillery, which include pot and column stills, ensure the final spirit is perfectly balanced. Before starting the distillation process, however, 3 more botanicals are added directly into the still - bergamot, fresh pear and, most importantly, locally sourced honey, one of the most distinctive elements of Silent Pool gin.

The honey comes from 125 beehives tended by Sergio, the distillery's trusted beekeeper, and gives the gin a unique distinguishing texture. The hives also play a key role, with the bees pollinating the local area.

Utmost care and attention to detail are key at every stage in the production process, from the selection of botanicals to the hand-finished bottles.

All Silent Pool Gin varieties have distinctly different flavors and aromas, yet they're all united by a shared purpose and vision. Balancing individual ingredients always involves a long process of recipe development, which requires experimenting with hundreds of different combinations before finding the perfect one.

That's how Silent Pool Gin captures the very essence of this magical region of Surrey, while for example Rare Citrus Gin brings together the world's rarest and most intriguing citrus fruits in a precise harmony, and Rose Expression pays tribute to the timeless English rose.

All Silent Pool gins, however, share the same DNA: handcrafted and rich in complex flavors, which evolve during tasting.

Ian McCulloch has a favorite brand, but is also partial to other versions. “The original Silent Pool Gin is my favorite, I don't think you can beat it. We've since innovated with different editions of gin, and I love the Silent Pool Platinum Celebration Gin that marked the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. It's peach driven, layered and a juniper-light version of the original.”

The role of William Grant and Sons

Since its creation, Silent Pool gin has quickly gained popularity in the local area, winning several industry awards and also expanding worldwide over the span of just a few years. 

In 2023, William Grant and Sons (WG&S) acquired Silent Pool Distillers, expanding its premium gin portfolio.

“Through the process of the acquisition we met a lot of people from WG&S that came from different teams,” says McCulloch. “Everybody was incredibly passionate about what they did and spoke with the same pride about the Company and its values. It made me feel like Silent Pool Distillery was in safe hands.”

"WG&S has such great depth of resources, well established markets and over 130 years of experience," continues McCulloch. "In particular, the sales resource and experience in luxury markets were stand outs for where we saw the future direction of the brand. We are so glad to be part of the WG&S family and look forward to continuing to do everything we can to get a bottle in a customer's hand."

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