James Oag-Cooper, friend and Managing Director/Founder of Foxhole Spirits is about to launch the second batch of London Dry Foxhole Gin. so I’m catching up with him asking a few questions about the origins and what it takes to make an award winning spirit:
James, what’s your background and how did that started the Gin idea?
My background is in the creative arts, food and wine, but most specifically being involved in the production side of the English Wine industry where the initial idea for Foxhole Gin came from. My passions are high-quality food and drink (particularly Gin!), sustainable living and something that is so far departed from both of these: motorsport!
Awesome! yeah, we’ve had a few interesting F1 discussions.
Tell me, what is Foxhole Spirits?
Foxhole Spirits is a spirits production company that produces and sells high quality, premium spirits with the first product to market being a London Dry Gin named Foxhole Gin.
What makes it so special?
Foxhole Gin uses a grape spirit for its base, which is produced by pressing the unused juice from grapes used in the English Wine Industry. This process helps to reduce wastage from the English Wine industry by utilising a sustainable raw material for the base spirit, a foundation that gives Foxhole Gin its unique and complex flavour characteristics.
And your vision?
Our vision here at Foxhole Spirits is to create unique, premium quality spirits with a focus on using otherwise unused resources, promoting sustainability and creativity within the drinks industry. There isn’t anyone particularly who focusses on using up unused resources such as leftover grape material, but it’s hugely important for the future that as many resources as possible are used in all industries. We are just trying to do our part within the drinks industry.
When did you start producing, how long was the process?
We launched the first batch of Foxhole Gin in September 2016 following around 4 years of development. The project began in 2012, with the first collection of grape juice in 2014 which was initially done as a small pilot project. Following this, there was around a year and half of recipe development, before beginning production of the first complete batch from the 2014 harvest in April 2016.
Why grapes? Where do they come from?
I wanted to be the first to make Gin out of unused grape material from the English Wine Industry. A lot is required to have the ability to achieve this, the reason being is that to achieve this we needed three key ingredients; The imagination to see the possibilities. The skills to perform the alchemy. And the time to produce the unique ingredients. We have a strong partnership with Bolney Wine Estate in West Sussex who we work closely with to collect the unused grape material and make the base wine, along with a strong team who can implement the vision of turning this material into incredible Gin.
It is incredible indeed, I personally like a Foxhole Dry Martini!
So how’s the process of getting the grapes and turning them into gin?
After pressing, our Sussex grapes are reduced to a pulpy mass of skins, flesh and pips. Now, instead of just binning it, we send the marc back for a second pressing. All that lovely, formerly lost juice is carefully collected, fermented and turned into an English Wine.
It then takes two days to distil the wine into grape spirit; another two days to blend it with neutral spirit and carefully selected botanicals. Then it’s back to the still for a second time before being diluted and bottled
It’s important to remember that you can make gin in 48 hours, but we need 8,760 as It takes a whole year to make a batch of Foxhole Gin. The grapes need to grow and wine to be made. Only then can we distil, blend, distil again, dilute and bottle.
Pure alchemy! How would you recommend serving it?
Foxhole Gin is incredibly versatile which is why it is loved by bartenders and mixologists and is best served either:
- Neat as a sipping Gin over ice.
- In short cocktails such as a Martini or Aviation.
- In a Gin and Tonic with premium tonic water, served with a garnish of pink grapefruit zest.
Thanks, James, can’t wait to taste the next batch of Gin!