The Bimber Story
A journey from the forests of Poland where our master distiller learnt the art of distillation from his father, who had learnt from his grandfather; on an open fire with a homemade copper still using fruits they had foraged.
He moved to London with our co-founder, establishing a successful business, but always with the dream of opening a whisky distillery, which is impossible to do back home. They chose London as the home for their single malt whisky and set out to create a young whisky to challenge the perception that old is better when it comes to single malt.
Every part of the setup, process and search for the highest quality ingredients was designed with their goal in mind – to produce a truly hand-crafted and world-class new-world whisky by using their entrepreneurial spirit, engineering knowledge, creative passion and distilling heritage.
They were able to realise their dream in a city that has a long history of being recognised as a centre of world trade, cultural diversity, innovation and tradition.
What is Bimber?
Our founder Darius has distilling in his blood and was strongly influenced by both his father and grandfather who were both ‘moonshiners’ in his native Poland. This led to the distillery being named ‘Bimber’, which is the Polish word for ‘moonshine’.
Tell us a little about your distillery?
The distillery was formally established in 2015, although it took over a year for us to assemble the bespoke equipment and get the necessary permits and clearance. Initially we launched a London Dry Gin and range of Fruit-Infused Vodkas, with the first batch of the London Single Malt Whisky being distilled in May 2016.
We have already received multiple awards for our Bimber Originals range – including our London Dry Gin; Oak-Aged Vodka & Fruit Infused Vodka and continue to innovate with exciting new products for the UK’s burgeoning spirits movement.
Early in 2018, we launched The London Classics – which were born out of our desire to challenge the status quo of what is traditionally found in the ‘speed rail’ and availability as house pour spirits. Habitually dominated by mainstream spirits owned by global companies; the house pour spirit market to date has consisted of mass-produced, uniformed and tasteless spirits . Frustrated with this lack of creativity, individuality and value for money, we set about creating a unique London Vodka and London Dry Gin to challenge the norm and reintroduce character and flavour into the consumer’s glass. Initially we have seen huge success with The London Classics – stealing market share from huge brands such as Absolut Vodka and Beefeater Gin.
The production and sales of our gin and vodka brands support the business whilst we are distilling and maturing The London Single Malt – which is our long-term goal – for us it is all about creating a young whisky that can make its mark on the global stage !
CRAFTED IN LONDON & INSPIRED BY TRADITION
Based in West London, our focus is on producing a spirit of the upmost quality, using traditional methods and the highest quality ingredients. At Bimber we combine our distilling heritage with passion, innovation and a contemporary approach to driving the English Whisky category forward.
From the start we were absolutely focused on the type of whisky we wanted produce and have worked tirelessly to build a distillery with the potential to produce a quality product with global appeal.
We are standing up against the established mainstream model of mass production and consumption. Macro trends are changing – consumers are thinking differently – they want something unique, an experience, something to believe in.
More than any other European City ; London is seamlessly woven into the global economy, population and culture. London currently sits at the centre of a global urban revolution where we are seeing a revival of old customs and traditions with a focus on locally produced products that are hand crafted from locally sourced and high quality ingredients.
We are re-writing London whisky history and have a great story to tell! No English single malt whisky has been produced since 1905; with the closure of the Lea Valley Distillery by The Distillers Company Ltd.
As part of the new-wave of distiller’s we are committed to changing perceptions and pioneering a revolution in the industry. Promoting gender diversity within the industry is something we take seriously, and w take pr ide in the fact that one of our founders is female.
- Best of British We source our ingredients from the best suppliers across the UK
- Independence Choosing our own path; we are West London’s independent distillery
- From Grain to Glass From raw materials to finished product we control every step of the process
- Working with Producers Our English Barley comes from a farm in Hampshire & we work directly with our maltsters
- Attention to Detail We are obsessed with quality and our spirits are all crafted by hand
THE ENGLISH WHISKY CATEGORY
Scottish and Irish whisky are well established spirits and it is an exciting time for the development of the English whisky category. There is currently no set standard for English whisky and we therefore have a duty to ensure we integrate our distilling heritage, historical knowledge and understanding of whisky making, combined with technological developments, to produce an incomparable, outstanding London whisky.
Creating a whisky that is English to its core really matters to our Founders. We certainly don’t want to copy Irish or Scotch whisky. We’re creating a character of English whisky from the start with the barley, which is very important.
The story of the barley we use here at Bimber begins in the picturesque Fordham & Allen farm in Hampshire, owned by Chris Allen. Here he grows Concerto – which is one of the most sought after barley varieties, which is perfect for both malting and distilling.
At the farm, there is a seamless process from seeding, to growing and right through to the harvesting. Our malt is a truly a ‘local’ product sourced from Britain’s oldest malting’s – Warminster Malting’s – one of the country’s only remaining traditional maltsters. Our malt is a unique product of outstanding quality. We use a strain called Concerto, specifically used for distilling and it truly stands apart from other malts.
Very few distilleries still use floor malted barley, but as its honeyed, bready and fresh aroma wafts over the distillery you can see why we felt it worth the extra expenditure.
MASHING – A total of 250kg of this grain is used per mash, which is heated to 67°C. This is a slightly hotter temperature than is common, but this is a critical part of the process that will extract more sugar, resulting in a lighter flavour.
FERMENTATION – We transfer the clear wort to one of our four handmade wooden washbacks (fermentation vessels). It wasn’t possible to source the right specification of tank, so these have been painstakingly made by hand in our workshop to our exact specifications using slightly toasted American White Oak. The character of the wood imparts the flavour we are looking for. We use wood for the fermentation as it allows it to breathe and produce the rich and complex fruity flavour we are looking for.
Our distiller’s yeast is a specific variety which was developed especially for our distillery. The fermentation process lasts for up to six days, which is a long time, and part of our unique process which is influenced by our master distillers distilling heritage.
DISTILLATION – The first distillation is in our 1,000-litre copper pot still named ‘Doris’, after the sea nymph in Greek mythology, whose name represents ‘the bounty of the sea’. A second distillation follows in Astraea, a 600-litre spirit still, named after the Greek goddess of ‘innocence and purity’, who was said to strive for perfection with great attention to detail. It’s an appropriate name for a vessel tasked with refining our world-class new-make spirit.
NEW MAKE SPIRIT -The result post-distillation is a 72% ABV new-make spirit, which Bimber cuts down to 63.5% ABV using osmosis-filtered, purified London water. Our aim is to create a light, fruity, new-make spirit which is fundamental to creating a single malt whisky that doesn’t have to be aged for a long time.
OUR STILLS – Our handmade, bespoke copper pot stills were made by Hoga in Portugal. These stills are unique and made to our exact specifications. This is important, so we can deliver the complex flavour you get from a ‘small and bulky’ still, unlike the taller, larger examples which are widely used to produce scotch whisky.
We chose to heat them with direct-fire, rather than steam, in the traditional way. This enables a slow but powerful cook for a more full-bodied spirit with a depth of flavour.
Using his engineering expertise, our Master Distiller has not only specified the design of the equipment, in particular, the shape of the shell and tube condenser, but this has also been modified to improve the quality and flavour of the spirit produced by himself. This was carefully thought through to ensure a longer condensation period to bolster those sought-after light and fruity flavours.
OUR CASKS – Currently, we have more than 350 casks laid down in our distillery. Our aim is to continually lay down more casks year on year, with 720 casks being produced annually by 2020.
Our whisky matures in four different cask types and the casks are sourced from some of the most recognized names in the industry. Each cask is carefully selected and is checked on site by one of our highly skilled coopers. We are proud to say that we do all of our own cooperage on-site, including repairing and re-charring the casks when required.
Currently we use predominantly ex-Bourbon, but also ex-Port, ex-PX Sherry and Virgin American Oak casks which are charred to level #3. The Virgin Oak casks come from World Cooperage (Missouri, USA), as well as Ruby Port, Pedro Ximénez sherry and even we are even experimenting with other types of cask including different red wine varieties for example.
We buy all of our casks direct from the source and always insist that they are transported with around five litres of the original spirit left inside and are then emptied fresh when we receive them. This is something we do differently, we never buy flat-pack casks. Transporting the casks whole is not cheap but definitely worth every penny. This way the casks remain ‘active’ and this is again a key factor is producing a young whisky, as the chemical reaction between the wood and the spirit is stronger and the maturation process accelerated. The result is a distinctive colour and an array of flavours in a much shorter period of time. We only use first fill casks and use them once.
We have already Bimber has gained recognition from Jim Murray, in the 2018 Whisky Bible. Our new-make spirit was awarded a liquid gold medal in this year’s Whisky Bible (95.5 out of 100). Jim said; “Quite possibly the best new from a fledgling distillery I have ever encountered: off
the top of my head I cannot recall its master … stylish and simply brilliant”
EVERYTHING UNDER ONE-ROOF
At Bimber we pride ourselves on ‘doing everything under one roof’; this includes mashing, fermentation, distillation, ageing and bottling. We even design all our own packaging and materials in-house. Our lab is the home to many different experiments, innovation and quality control.
We currently offer two Cask Ownership schemes:
30 Litre Reserve Cask
- These are a cost-effective way of owning a slice of history. Whether it’s for your home cellar, a personal investment or a gift to family or friends, it’s a perfect opportunity for the Whisky lover.
- Priced at £495 up-front, with bottling charges, duty and VAT payable after three years of ageing.
Full Size Casks
- Choose from any of the Cask Types we use for The London Single Malt with pricing starting from £3,000 for a 190-litre ex-Bourbon Cask
- From three years old you can choose when to bottle your whisky, at which stage you will be responsible for bottling and labelling costs, and all taxes.
- You can always sell your cask back to the distillery, on which profit is guaranteed at 6% annual return on the purchase price (plus two bottles from the cask).
WHISKY TOURS & EXPERIENCES
At Bimber we offer two specialist Whisky Experiences for those interested in learning more about our distillery, whisky production and the London Single Malt. These are in addition to our standard distillery tour.
WHISKY CONNOISSEUR EXPERIENCE
- Experience Bimber Craft Distillery and our London Single Malt Whisky. Start at the distillery bar for a whisky cocktail, before entering the distillery floor. We then show you how we mash, ferment and distil our fine malted English barley in the traditional style, then taste our award-winning new make spirit!
- Enjoy a selection of our cask aged spirits, including ex-Bourbon, ex-Sherry, exPort and Virgin American Oak, to see how the different barrels influence the maturing whisky.
Spend a day with us at the distillery, learning how to operate the equipment and distil single malt whisky. We usually produce a batch of ‘low -wines’ from the 1000 litre wash still (first distillation) while running the 600 litre spirit still for our new-make spirit (second distillation).
If you are feeling energetic, you can help with the mashing! This is where we mix hot water with our malted barley to extract ‘worts’ – the soluble sugars that form the base of our whisky.
You will experience the whole whisky making journey: from malted barley to new-make spirit, via mashing, fermenting and distilling your own new-make spirit. You will also learn about the processes of maturation, including a cask filling, aging and instrumentation.
What you are looking forward to?
The first release in May 2019, will see us launch the following:
Signature Edition – we will be our flagship expression at 46% ABV and is a unique combination of first fill ex-bourbon, ex-PX Sherry and Virgin American Oak aged single cask whiskies. Batch number one will be a limited release of 1,000 bottles and is priced at £120 and is available to pre-order now.
Single Cask Expressions – we will be releasing a limited quantity of our four different cask types, all at cask strength 60% ABV. These first release of these single cask varieties are limited to 200 bottles each priced at £250 and available to pre-order now.
We are currently looking to raise investment to fund our expansion plans:
- Move to a new West London site we have found, to enable increased production capability and cask storage
- Development of a world-class distillery experience
- Further investment in sales & marketing to expand our team across the UK
- Create an in-house marketing team with digital and trade marketing expertise
- Grow international distribution
- Deliver our mission to redefine the availability of craft spirits in the UK Off-trade.
Address 56 Sunbeam Road, London, NW10 6JQ
Online Store https://bimber-distillery.myshopify.com/