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EWG Distillery Focus: Ad Gefrin

Our Spring 2024 distillery focus is Ad Gefrin, right in the top most corner of England in Northumberland.

 



What does English whisky mean to you?


English whisky is very much a product of the communities surrounding our independent distilleries. Independent distilleries push the boundaries, aren’t afraid to be innovative and challenge the norm of what is expected. Not having to meet a set expectation allows us to be adventurous in our decisions and push the industry forward. With the fantastic support of our communities and customers, we get the chance to showcase the ideas our fantastic distillers have and the regions we come from.


Ad Gefrin isn’t just English Whisky – it’s Northumbrian – that goes to the heart of who we are! We are celebrating the 7th century Golden Age of Northumbria with a spirit that will become synonymous with timeless Northumbrian hospitality! Ad Gefrin Single Malt represents an authentic story of what it means to literally ‘distil’ Northumberland.

 

What makes your whisky (and distillery) unique within the English whisky sphere?


Ad Gefrin is inspired by the values of the royal court of the Anglo-Saxon kings and queens of the 7th century discovered a stone’s throw away from our home in Wooler. Our spirits all have an authentic story and sense of place that can only be ours.


Using only barley that has been grown and malted locally and water drawn from our own borehole, fed from water running off of the Cheviot hills, it means at Ad Gefrin we are creating a product that truly represents the region it comes from and as such could not be replicated anywhere else in the world.


The unique combination of Anglo-Saxon Museum experience, distillery and a multi-sensory tasting room that evokes the Northumbrian landscape makes a visit to Ad Gefrin unique. Everything we do, everything we create is born to bring people together.

 

What is the achievement that you are most proud of?


To be honest, creating a team and seeing them working so well together for Ad Gefrin and caring so much about their job is incredibly rewarding. Just knowing they are enjoying their job and take such pride in what they do has to be the achievement that I am personally proudest of.

 

In terms of whisky achievement, the launch of any distillery’s first spirit is always a momentous occasion. To launch a blend before the distillery is open that does not contain your own whisky is doubly challenging. We launched Tácnbora ( from the Old English for ‘standard bearer’) knowing that it reflected who we are and the story we have to tell.  That it has been so universally well received couldn’t make us prouder – especially as it has been enjoyed by those new to whisky as well as the well-seasoned connoisseur.

 

Tácnbora is a fitting name for our spirit that comes before all others. King Edwin was always preceded by a standard bearer carrying a standard with a goat’s head effigy – the same goat symbol that is now central to our brand marque. A blend of Scottish malt and grain whisky as well as Irish grain whiskies, blended in England, Tácnbora also mirrors the origins of three of the peoples that made up the Anglo-Saxons Northumbrians (Scottish, Irish, English and Scandinavian) aptly reflecting our brand built on ancient hospitality and our ambitions of bringing everyone together.

 

What do you think will be the biggest challenge for English whisky in 2024?

 

The last 18 months, since we started production has been nothing but challenges and it’s solving those challenges that gets me out of bed in the morning. The biggest challenges we see in the year ahead and the foreseeable future are mainly in costs and barrel supplies.

 

Starting production in a distillery during an energy crisis as well as the highest malt cost seen for years created a perfect storm for us, a storm we have weathered and come out the other side of. With these costs, it has led us to focus much more on efficiency, making sure we are getting everything we can from all processes whilst maintaining the upmost quality.

 

The supply of barrels is something that is keeping all distillers up at night right now. The increased demand for Bourbon casks on our side of the Atlantic as well as worldwide has seen a real strain on supply chains as well as a big increase in costs. It’s in times like these that we are lucky to be working with great suppliers like Kelvin Cooperage and Alba Cooperage. Their support in helping us source the best quality casks within our specifications has been a massive relief and allowed us to buy casks in confidence knowing that we are getting quality wood from trusted sources.

 

Longer term – how do you assess the future for English whisky?


Seeing the growth of English whisky is really inspiring and the opportunity to join that growth and be a part of the English Whisky scene is one we are really excited about. All the amazing new distilleries opening up across England is a great sight.


We respect all that has come before us, it allows us to do what we are doing now but we have the added freedom to put our own stamp on the whisky world and shape the future of whisky.


The great thing is the consumer being more open to English whisky, willing to try new things and being excited to see the innovation and products we all have to offer – sharing a whisky or two with us along the way

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