At first sight, some may think of Odiham, and its surrounding towns as quaint, sleepy English villages, where nothing much happens, and life just bumbles along; however, visitors to this beautiful corner of North-East Hampshire will be most surprised and delighted by what they find, especially if they love to find new independent food and drink producers on their travels.
Just a few minutes by car from our comforting abode sits Gorilla Spirits Co. an award-winning distillery, in the heart of Upton Grey, which you reach via winding country roads as you pass cottages, and houses that are straight out of Country Homes magazine.
Our local artisan producer – Gorilla Spirits Co.
Setup by Andy Daniels, Founder & Chief Gorilla, back in 2011, as he encroached upon the twilight years of his corporate career, he felt the time was finally right to indulge in his passion for food and drink, by setting up his very own distillery. Why?, because he was closely following the craft distilling movement that was blowing up in the USA and knew that it would follow suit here in Blighty…and he wasn’t wrong! It took four years to perfect his first debut gin blend of Silverback Mountain Strength (46% ABV), which launched to market in time for Christmas 2015.
Since then, Andy and the team have gone from strength to strength as they continue to grow their product portfolio, which now includes an incredible range of award-winning gins, including London Dry, Old Tom, and Wild Strawberry, a smooth vodka, a range of flavoured coffee liqueurs, and their newest range of delicious rums – a light, dark, and spiced.
A particular delight that we tried up in their fancy bar, was their limited release V.S.O.G Silverback Gin. Loved by the mature, discerning drinker, this special blend is ideal in a cocktail, or as a digestif; barrel-aged, it’s best enjoyed on the rocks, or to be sipped neat. Not to be outdone however, was the espresso martini that I was served, which combines the Silverback Mountain Strength Vodka, with the Maraba Coffee liqueur…WOW!
Corporate social responsibility remains at the core of its business
But at the heart of setting up this new venture, Andy wanted to demonstrate that placing ethical responsibility at the core of his business not only serves society, and the world at large, but is integral to his business model.
“Business should be more than just making money, especially when you’re using up the world’s resource“.
In working so closely with The Gorilla Organization (charity), and donating £1 for every bottle of gin, vodka, and rum sold, the business has generated over £60,000 for the charity, supporting its efforts in protecting the critically endangered African gorillas; which is slowly seeing a return in increasing gorilla numbers within the African population. The funding support allows the charity to protect gorillas from poachers, crossfire, and destroying deadly snares, it allows them to safeguard their forest homes, and keep them safe from disease, alongside working closely with the local communities to help them also protect these incredible beings. So not only are you buying a great product, but you’re also helping to protect endangered gorillas.
Distillery Experiences for you to enjoy
Not only does Andy and the team create clean, smooth, and delicious spirits. The distillery is also open to visitors at selected times/ days of the week, offering a unique opportunity to see the process at work, alongside a selection of different hands-on experiences.
See first-hand how they make their award-winning spirits on their Distillery & Tasting Experience, try your hand at creating your very own gin at The Gin School, or gather your friends together for an evening Cocktail Masterclass as you pour, twist, zest, shake, and stir the most delicious concoctions.
Our top ‘take homes’
All in all, we couldn’t feel more proud to be working alongside, and to be such close neighbours to this award-winning, ethical drink producer.
- If you get the chance, we highly recommend picking up a bottle of Gorilla Maraba Coffee Liqueur, which is a beautiful collaboration between Gorilla Spirits Co. and Hampshire’s very own Moon Roast Coffee roasters. Not only is this one of the best tasting coffee liqueurs you will ever taste, but they also work alongside another charity partner KULA, to help eradicate poverty through the development of entrepreneurs in Rwanda’s coffee communities. There are three liqueur flavours to enjoy, but our favourite has to be the salted hazelnut, which tastes incredible poured over ice-cream as a super simple, Italian-style Affogato.
- If you plan on spending a few nights with us here at The Red Lion, chat to our bar team and they will be delighted to recommend a Gorilla drink of choice as you relax by the fire, or watch the sun set. Alternatively, if you want to take some of their delicious ‘nectar’ home with you and haven’t time to enjoy a trip to Gorilla Spirits Distillery, many of the local farm shops, including Caviste, which is located at Newlyns Farm Shop, stock Gorilla products, as do many of the local Waitrose stores in and around us here in Hampshire, and Surrey.
- The Karisimbi Rum would make a fabulous gift this Father’s Day, which tastes delicious mixed with a spicy Ginger Beer, or even Fever Tree Vanilla Cola. Plus, it has multiple uses, as you can also create crowd-pleasing desserts with it, by adding a drop (or three!) to Tarte Tatin, or baking a grown up’s banana bread, and drizzle rum over at the end, as you would lemon juice on a drizzle cake.
Gorilla is just one of the many local, independent producers that we proudly work with here at The Red Lion. Relax in our quality pub, and dine amongst great company.