This is Capreolus Distillery, an aritsan Eau de Vie and Gin producer based in Cirencester in the picturesque Cotswolds. Barney Wilczak, a former photo-journalist focusing on conservation stories, is the genius behind the brand and it’s beautiful products.
The image above shows just how humble the distillery is, since this building is the former family green house, now converted into a mad-scientist of spirits laboratory/distillation room.
I decided to make a booking to visit Capreolus Distillery after tasting a few samples of their Eau de Vie’s with my Head Sommelier. We were both blown away by the quality of the spirits and I instantly wanted to know more!
The distillery is all within Barney Wilczak’s family home. This collection of maturing Eau de Vie’s is all situated on the second floor of his garage.
While the fermentation happens downstairs. Sad news for the family car which had to quickly vacate the premises when the distillery started getting serious, although quite a worthy sacrifice In my opinion.
After seeing where all of the magic happens we were excited to meet Pippin, the gorgeous distillery dog bringing smiles to all of our faces as we embarked upon the next stage of our tour.
The tasting! I had tasted or at least smelt almost all of the products before, although sitting around a table with the man who created them and going through the nitty and gritty of each fruit was a surreal experience.
Each Eau de Vie has a story to tell, whether it’s scrubbing quince’s until 4am or packing 2 punnets of raspberry into each sip of alcohol, the passion that goes into the products is undeniable. Barney is a true innovator and perfectionist which is blatant when you first take a sip and feel the real fruit, enhanced by more aromatic compounds that you can’t even taste in the raw fruit!
What’s even more brilliant is that Barney believes in showcasing the true flavour of the fruit through sustainable practices and keeping the product completely natural. Unique, native fruits are coming from a 50 mile radius, where only the wild yeast from their skins and pips is used for fermentation.
A diverse selection of fruits can be found growing in and around the Cotswolds, making it a great place to explore and get creative with the UK’s native varieties.
All of the labels are handwritten by Barney’s lovely wife Hannah, who is often kept company by Pippin.
These products are something very unique and luxurious but all of the quality is eveident throughout every careful step in the process. The flavour of each Eau de Vie alone is a delight, however, Barney reccommends adding a drop of water to enhance the aromas or using in a Champagne cocktail.
Following on from our Capreolus Distillery visit, we took the opportunity to explore Cirencester in the Cotswolds, before continuing on to Burton-on-the-Water where we devoured our pizzas after working up quite an appetite!
Even with all of that rain, we managed to have a great day in the Cotswolds! The absolute highlight however, Capreolus Distillery…all truly luxurious products from a super innovative, artisinal business.