DISTILLED from wheat grown in Wiltshire soil and chalk-filtered water from underneath its smooth, rolling hills, Ramsbury Gin is a distinctly Wiltshire spirit.

Of its nine carefully blended botanicals, the juniper berries ripened on Salisbury Plain and the quince grew on a beautiful old tree on the estate – so this gin is truly infused with the light and air, the chalk and earth and water, of this beautiful, ancient landscape.

Yet the gin itself is only a year old. The new distillery stands high on the downs above Aldbourne, at Stockclose Farm. Inside the farm stands the glistening steel and copper equipment which, with its vats and columns and pipes, has the air of an alchemist’s laboratory. Here master brewer Dhiraj Pujari supervises the complex process of distilling a single estate vodka, and now, their Ramsbury Gin.

“We started selling vodka at the end of 2015, and the Ramsbury Gin in January 2017,” says Will Taylor, spokesman for the Ramsbury Brewery and Distillery. “It took us that long to perfect the recipe.

“We believe you have to make good alcohol – and most gin makers buy alcohol in. We can’t tell the story of the gin, without the story of the vodka.”

The alcohol is made from a variety of wheat called Horatio, all grown on the 20,000-acre Ramsbury Estate, and water from the estate’s borehole. The result of a 96.5 per cent alcohol, made in a column still with 46 plates. An alcohol at 95 per cent can be made with ten plates, at 96 per cent with 40 plates, while 46 are needed to distil at the quality the Ramsbury Estate wants.

Master distiller Dhiraj studied agricultural biotechnology before taking a Master’s degree in brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, in 2008-9. He joined the team at the Ramsbury Estate on May 2011, following a stint at a brewery in Leeds – and says he loves his Wiltshire job.

“It’s such a beautiful place – surrounded by natural beauty and fresh air,” he says.

Will explains that the alcohol is diluted then filtered to make vodka. To make gin, it is put into a gin still with their nine chosen botanicals – juniper, quince, orris root, cinnamon, angelica, liquorice, coriander seeds, the dried peel of orange and lemons, and fresh quince.

After three hours, the new gin is 80 per cent alcohol, which is diluted to 40 per cent, before being chill-filtered, to ensure it remains crystal clear, then bottled and labelled by hand. The bespoke bottles have a dark green label featuring ears of wheat and a ram’s head – symbol of the estate.

Sustainability and an emphasis on the local extends beyond the ingredient list, however. The distillery uses a biomass boiler, which uses wood chips harvested from the estate.

“There are 2,500 acres of woodland on the estate. The larch is being taken out, and replaced with broad leaf native trees,” Will explains.

The remains of the wheat and barley from the distilling and brewing processes are used to feed animals, and even the waste water is treated through a new, environmentally friendly reed-bed system at the farm. The estate engaged experts from the Wildlife and Wetland Trust to help them set up the system, which uses reeds and a series of ponds to filter effluent from the brewery, while creating a valuable habitat for wildlife at the same time. By the end of the process, the water is clean enough to drink.

Inside the shop, ranks of bottles shine like jewels, and I have a chance to taste some Ramsbury Gin.

It is smooth and oddly soft to drink – not abrasive, like some gins. The quince adds to the perfumed, slightly floral nature of this London dry gin. A delight to drink neat, it also works well with tonic, with a slice of apple and pear. And I am influenced by the story of its origins – the old quince tree, the wheat turned gold in Wiltshire fields, the underground water. This gin has a story to please the imagination.

“It’s doing exceptionally well,” Will says. “We’re exporting to Sweden, Greece and Portugal, and we’ll be exporting to Argentina, the Philippines and the United States this year.”

The Ramsbury Gin is also a hit around the UK and on its home turf – the 35-mile radius of the distillery:

“We are focusing on making sure that remains,” Will smiles.

Locally the gin is proving more popular, while further afield Ramsbury Vodka is taking the lead.

“There are only four of five single estate vodkas in the UK – it’s rare,” he says.

The decision to make the new gin goes back a long way: “There are few single estate distilleries, where all the ingredients come from one estate. We wanted to make something as good as it could be – the highest quality of spirit possible. It’s a London dry gin, and the ingredients are 100 per cent traceable.

“The response has been wholly positive and we’ve had incredible feedback from customers.”

The estate also sells sloe vodka, damson and blackberry liquors, as well as a range of traditional ales. Their first ale was Rambsury Gold, a rich, golden-coloured beer, but many others have followed, such as Flint Knapper, Honeybee Nectar and Silver Pig Snout – a dark chocolate stout.

Visitors are welcomed to the brewery and distillery, with tours and tastings on Wednesdays and Fridays.

“All of us here love talking about this place – we feel very privileged to be here,” Will says.

The Ramsbury Estate is owned by Swedish billionaire Stefan Persson, whose father Erling founded clothing chain H&M, in 1947. Prince Charles paid a visit to the distillery at the end of 2017 and enjoyed a snifter of vodka and a taste of the gin as part of his visit.

The Stockclose Farm shop also stocks Ramsbury Black-Gold extra virgin rapeseed oil, which is grown, harvested, cold-pressed and bottled on the estate, with no bought-in ingredients. Deer, pheasant, partridge and pigeon provide the smokehouse with fresh, locally-sourced game throughout the year.

For more details, visit www.ramsburyshop.com.