Ben to Distil the Spirit of Glendale
Northumbrian distillery Ad Gefrin reveals Head Distiller
Ad Gefrin, the multi-million-pound visionary visitor experience and distillery in Glendale, today announces the appointment of Ben Murphy as Head Distiller. The news comes hard on the heels of last week’s commencement of work on the site in Wooler, which will provide opportunity, employment and a new unique taste of the Cheviots and the Borders.
Ben has been appointed to guide Ad Gefrin towards producing the first Northumbrian English Single Malt Whisky. In announcing this appointment, Eileen Ferguson, of Ad Gefrin said: “Ben has the perfect blend of youth, passion, spirit of exploration and dedication to his craft. What is more he has an obsession for indigenous whiskies, and certainly knows his way around a range of spirits!”
A graduate of Heriot-Watt University’s Brewing and Distilling School in Edinburgh, he gained an MSc with distinction in Brewing and Distilling. Aged 35 and originally from the Wirral, Ben’s whisky journey to Northumberland has taken him to volunteering at Rock Town Distillery in Arkansas, USA, where he cemented his want and drive to make whisky, and to Berentsens Brygghus in Egersund, Norway, where he was Head Distiller. His experience also includes stints as Head Distiller and Senior Brewer at Liverpool Craft Beer Company Ltd and The Ginsmiths of Liverpool.
Most recently, Ben was Head Distiller at Poetic License Distillery in Sunderland, where he was brought in specifically to develop new products and improve and refine operations. This culminated last year in the winning of a 3-star ‘Great Taste’ award – the highest accolade available in these awards – for their Poetic License Northern Dry Gin. This was one of only two gins in the UK to receive this award.
With construction work now under way, Ad Gefrin aims to be able to begin distilling their first spirit in late spring 2022. The very first single malt Ad Gefrin whisky will be ready exactly three years and a day after the distilling has commenced.
In joining Ad Gefrin, Ben said: “North Northumberland and Glendale in particular were already very special to my wife and I, and we love to visit. The people have a great warmth and the landscape is stunning. Ad Gefrin’s sense of community, mixed with an absolute commitment to provenance – with barley literally on our doorstep, Cheviot water drawn from under our feet – makes this an incredible opportunity for any distiller.”
He added: “In taking up this role, I am especially excited and keen to explore the use of modern yeasts and heritage barleys, such as those that might have been around in the Anglo-Saxon times that inspired the vision for the Ad Gefrin; but, I am totally respectful of the traditional craft of creating great whisky, which is exactly what I aim to do. The ‘terroir’ couldn’t be better, and at the end of the day, it is all about the place.”
In their vision for this new high quality visitor experience and distillery in Wooler, Ad Gefrin are committed to the local community and celebrating all that the area has to offer. This appointment is one of the first of many new jobs which are to be created. Commenting further on this unique appointment Eileen Ferguson said:
“We couldn’t be more delighted that Ben has agreed to join our team, as he has literally all the ingredients and sense of adventure that we were looking for. He is very humble but his knowledge and understanding of process, passion for quality, attention to detail and obsession for whisky fill us with enormous confidence that he will give us the world class single malt we aspire to. Importantly, Ben totally understands our values, that is, everything we create, everything we do, is about bringing people together.”
Located in Wooler on the edge of the Northumberland National Park, this exciting and innovative multi-million-pound regeneration project plans to deliver economic growth to the local and wider communities of Glendale. The recent successful funding bids are indicative of the support that the project has both locally and nationally, with the promise of a resurgence to Northumberland tourism, an exporter trade boost, and excellent environmental credentials integrating the site into the surrounding landscape.
- The Ad Gefrin visitor destination and whisky distillery will be a major new cultural asset and business opportunity that will accelerate regeneration and economic growth, and boost productivity, in an important part of North Northumberland’s rural economy.
- The new cultural centre will offer an immersive AV and museum interpretation of the Northumbrian royal capital of Ad Gefrin and the Golden Age of the Kingdom of Northumbria. It will link with the landscape, archaeology, and stories of the area, as well as trails through the Northumberland National Park, encouraging visitors to explore and spend time and money across the wider Borderlands area.
- It will be a significant new business for Northumberland, creating a distinctive visitor destination celebrating Northumberland’s unique culture and heritage, alongside the first whisky distillery in the area for 200 years, reviving a long tradition of whisky making in Northumberland.
- The distillery will produce a new and distinctive Northumbrian whisky product, creating new wealth and jobs through sales in UK and international markets.
- Ad Gefrin will become a long-term employer in Wooler (creating up to 50 FTE jobs by Year 5), supporting training and employment across the hospitality, visitor engagement and spirit production sectors.
- Ad Gefrin has received £3m from the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal which is funded through the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and has also received £1m from the North East Rural Growth Network – Strategic Economic Infrastructure Fund (SEIF) through the North East LEP, and £600k through Northumberland County Council.
- The Borderlands Partnership consists of Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council, Scottish Borders Council. The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal is progressing towards the final Deal sign off, due in March 2021. The Deal will deliver up to £350 million investment in projects across the region from the UK and Scottish Governments alongside local investment of £100 million. More information can be found at www.borderlandsgrowth.com
- About the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is a public, private, and education sector partnership that covers Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland local authority areas.