I’m writing this in early November as I’m fulfilling a lifetime ambition to sail the Atlantic between now and Christmas, so my apologies if I’ve failed to mention some extraordinary event that occurred after the time of writing.
Each year I look back on all the exciting things that have occurred, and the last few years have been staggering. Brexit followed by covid but this year I think takes it to a whole new level. In February we celebrated the Queens 70th anniversary of being on the throne and a week later the nation suffered the wrath of Storm Eunice. A few days after that the Russians decided that international borders didn’t really apply to them and invaded Ukraine. We’re only 50 days into the new year and already it’s shaping up to be a momentous year.
In March partygate results in a few token fines but the newspapers won’t let it go and our PM is in a decidedly sticky wicket, we also see the end of free lateral flow tests giving us all hope that the end of covid is in reach. April keeps the intrigue in politics going with an MP being ousted for watching the unspeakable on his phone in the commons chamber – he was looking for Tractors apparently. May sees the opening of the newest tube line only 4.5 years late and 3bn over budget – that’s ok then. All the while Boris is losing the battle to keep his feet under the table. June starts with the Platinum jubilee weekend which was lots of fun, and a little later Monkey Pox came but luckily quietly left again.
July sees virtually every minister resign which finally sees Boris out of office and a very long-winded effort to find a replacement starts. A few days later the hottest day on record (38.1) was recorded just 12 miles from the distillery (later to be beaten again at Coningsby in Lincoln achieving 40+, who needs to go abroad?) A fun bit of news was wild bison have been re-introduced to the UK and are now roaming wild in Kent – not something you want to meet at night in your car. August sees the announcement of a drought in parts of Wales, which is genuinely something I never believed could happen – it rains even more in Wales than it does in Scotland, or so I thought.
The price cap on heating got lifted by 80% which didn’t go down well, let’s hope winter isn’t a cold one. September was no better, we got a new PM but her arrival was greatly overshadowed by the loss of our Queen and 10 days of state mourning, a sad time. Truss and her chancellor get to work and announce their unchecked monetary policies, this leads to an even sadder time and ultimately a very short employment history for both. To brighten the mood we released our first 15yr old single malt whisky – it was a sell-out and for that, I am very grateful to you all. October was all about Westminster, can it get any worse… and we have another new PM.
Out of that little list of things to remember (or forget) I was particularly thrilled and touched by the events surrounding the launch of our 15 year old and the celebration of being open to the public for 15 years. Our open day at the distillery far exceeded any of our expectations with enormous numbers of visitors turning up for the day. We not only ensured lots of merriment with a great band and some exceedingly tasty food vans but we also gave whisky tours to over 500 people in one day!! A special mention to our members who turned out in good numbers and enjoyed a private members tour and tasting. Your feedback on a desire to do more events at the distillery has been duly noted. I was also very proud of our 15 yr whisky release. This wonderful single malt was truly world-class and one of the best whiskies I have tasted – ever, anywhere. This may seem like a bit of trumpet blowing but I think it’s worth it to give my distillers a virtual pat on the back for doing a truly outstanding job.
That brings us back to November. Not much has happened yet but at the time of writing the distillery is busy getting its annual release of ‘Poppy whisky’ ready, not whisky made from poppies but a delightful single malt that we use to raise money for the Poppy Appeal.
Other news from the distillery is that we have two new chaps in the production team: Martin who has come on board to be in charge of our maturation sheds and we also have Stuart who has come to help share the load on the production side. It’s lovely to have them at the distillery and to see the production team growing and improving all the time.
The distillery has changed its name! For 15 years our brand has been ‘The English’ but due to our postal address being St Georges we have been referred to in the press and trade magazines as St Georges Whisky, so the distillery is now formally called The English Distillery which should alleviate any confusion. We have a lot of road signs to change.
The restaurant has been shut for several months as we find a new operator but there is light at the end of the tunnel as we are in talks with a team we think will do an amazing job. Keep an eye on our website for updates.
I wish you all the very best Christmas and hope you are warm and well-fed. If I haven’t sunk, I should be home in time to indulge in a bit of turkey, or more likely beef, given the effects of bird flu. I do hope to see you all at the distillery if you find yourself passing in 2023.