As those with an eye for a shiny copper still will know, London is witnessing a distilling revival. And nowhere is this resurgence more appropriately situated than east London, an area rich in distilling heritage. Opened in June 2014, the East London Liquor Company is just a pebble’s skim downriver from the site of the Lea Valley Distillery, the last place whisky was distilled in England (109 years ago), and a hop over the canal from Hackney.
One of a small but growing clutch of craft distilleries popping up across the capital, ELLC produces a high-quality, small-batch vodka and three gins, with a rye whisky planned in the years to come. Strikingly set in a former glue factory, with glinting Arnold Holstein stills clearly visible behind the bar, the set-up reflects the ethos of the venture. As head honcho Alex Wolpert explains, he wants to make everything about what he does transparent, from being able to see directly how the spirits are made, to displaying clearly on the bottle the ingredients used. For those keen to know even more, they’ll soon be offering tours covering the distillation process, as well as tutored tasting sessions.
They use a high-quality British wheat grain spirit, and with master distiller Jamie Baxter at the helm, their vodka and gins are deliciously smooth. The London dry is juniper-forward, the two premium small-batch gins leaning on citrus and tea (batch 1) and a variety of herbs (batch 2). And happily, they won’t break the bank – you can pop in and snap up the London dry and vodka for £18 and the small-batch gins for £26/27. Make sure you stop to admire the bar, and grab a cheese toastie and a cocktail, served by the bartenders with a side order of banter. And if you want to shake up your own drink, here is one of ELLC’s favourites.
by Sally Schafer
Darjeeling Sour-Batch No 1 Premium Gin Signature Serve
- 40ml Batch 1 East London Liquor Company Gin
- 20ml Darjeeling liquor
- 25ml lemon juice
Beaten egg-white garnish with a dash of Miracle Mile Bergamot bitters, a twist of grapefruit peel and a cherry on a cocktail stick