Although the principal driver for embarking on this project is rum, we are passionate about the artisan spirit movement and giving Portsmouth it’s own distillery and range of spirits for the first time in hundreds of years.
The founders have always had a real passion for rum, and through their years in the industry, selling and tasting this versatile and flavoursome spirit it seemed the natural thing to do to start producing it. Initially to fill an ever-growing gap in the market for fine quality small-batch artisan white rum, but with an eye to laying this down to age, playing the long game, to have world-class aged sipping rums in the future.
That all said, we have also developed a world class Gin, to give Portsmouth it’s own Dry Gin for the first time in centuries. We are also developing several other products to be released later in 2018 and next year.
On the southeastern tip of Portsea Island, surrounded by the sea, and Naval History, the fabulous historic waterfront city of Portsmouth plays host to Hampshire’s premier distillery: The Portsmouth Distillery Company. The distillery was set up to once again produce accessible high-quality spirits on the island of Portsea, where the last time a distillery was in operation was in the eighteenth century. So where better to give a rebirth to a spirit company than in the impressive eighteenth century Fort Cumberland.
The Portsmouth Distillery sits in the heart of Fort Cumberland, a beautiful 18th Century fort on the south eastern tip of Portsea Island. This idyllic, tranquil location has been a real inspiration for the creation of this world class gin. We lovingly distil handmade small batches of fine Portsmouth Dry Gin using a recipe based on five key botanicals three of which are Elderflower, Gorse Flower and Sea Radish, foraged from the grounds of the Fort. When these are combined with our own blend of aromatic botanicals, they produce an exceptional gin which has a rich, full, floral bouquet, is silky smooth on the palate yet with a robust ‘Fort’ flavour and delicious warmth on the finish.
Through years of drinking, collecting and dealing in fine sipping rums, we have developed a clear understanding of what makes a great rum. All this research into what makes good white rum, straight off the still is what has led us to our final production process, ensuring a superior product when aged. It is made using a secret recipe derived from cane products, fermented for a few weeks in the ancient and atmospheric arched casemate, before being double distilled to produce a world-class small batch artisan white rum. Some of this rum is then laid down to age in French Oak barrels in the ancient powder magazines of Fort Cumberland, less than 100m from the sea.
Starting a distillery from scratch, as you might imagine, is not an easy task, it requires real commitment and belief in our abilities and our products. Through hard work and dedication, coupled with a passion and meticulous attention to detail we aim give Portsmouth a group of spirits they will be rightly proud of. We have opened our account with two exceptional products: Fort Gin and 1968 white unaged rum.
We were passionate that the distillery had to be somewhere on Portsea Island with history and a heritage (which this historic waterfront island has a plenty), to which we could connect. Fort Cumberland, with it’s obvious history and role in the defence of Portsmouth harbour, and latterly its role in housing the Royal Marine’s Anti-Aircraft Brigade, all struck a chord with our founders, especially two with their naval service and in particular Anti Air Warfare background.
Our future plans include several more products, inspired by our surroundings. We also aim to have a visitors centre in order to welcome in the people of Portsmouth and from further a field, in order to demonstrate first hand our real passion and drive to be the premier distillery on the south coast and beyond.