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Jonathan Clark - City of London

Written by Gin Foundry

The City of London Distillery has undergone something of a transformation since its arrival in 2012. Realising that his products, though good, were far from headline winning material, founder Jonathan Clark teamed up with ex-Tanqueray Distiller Tom Nichol to overhaul the range and in the process created a bar-back staple: Christopher Wren Gin. We caught up with Jonathan to get the gossip on one of the best of London’s local gins.

Can you tell us a little about Christopher Wren - how did it come about as a gin?

Christopher Wren Gin is the result of a collaboration between Tom Nichol (formerly Master Distiller at Tanqueray) and the City of London Distillery. Tom had just retired but was very keen to use his talents to develop a another gin. We were only too pleased to be able to make that possible. Tom and I worked together on the gin over several months, refining and perfecting it  until we were both happy with it.

It must have been great working with him, what was it like?

Tom is a great guy to work with. He has a huge amount of experience to draw on and knows just how to make subtle changes to the recipe to achieve the desired taste.  It’s lovely to work with someone with such a passion for high quality gin.

We bet! Did you have something in mind before the collaboration started or did you allow it to develop organically?

We wanted to create something different from our London Dry Gin, but still with a strong citrus finish.  Tom was interested in using fresh orange , which we were happy to explore.

How’s life at the distillery now – you seem to be busier than ever no?

The business is growing steadily in the UK and abroad. We now have five gin products: City of London Dry Gin, Christopher Wren Gin, City of London Old Tom Gin, City of London Sloe Gin and City of London Square Mile Gin - available in our bespoke dome-shaped 700 ml bottles. We’ll shortly also have the full range in 5 ml miniatures. The miniatures are a mini version of our bespoke dome bottle and look just great.

We can’t help but notice that you added a new still in this year… Has volume grown hugely, or are you just anticipating a big year ahead?

We’re putting all of our effort into building sales in the UK and overseas , so we need to make sure we’re in a position to deliver - hence the addition of Elizabeth.

Improved capacity means more chance to play… can we expect any new additions to the range?

Yes and no… We’re looking to 2017 to consolidate the products we currently have & build our exports - maybe something in 2018!

A trip to COLD is always worth while, especially for those taking part in the “Make Your Own” experiences. Have you ever come across a gin made by a visitor that you’ve genuinely considered taking as your own?

Some of the gins our novice distillers produce are wonderful. We feel we have enough products to work with at the moment, but there’s no doubt there are some interesting ideas emerging from the Gin Lab.

Your are quite honest about the learning curve it’s taken to get to the stage you are at as a business. What’s the one thing you wished you knew when you started (that you do now)?