The Capital’s hidden gem
It‘s not often that BibCup rides to an industrial park in Acton on an overcast Saturday in July. But that’s just what BibCup was doing a couple of weeks ago. With the anniversary of the seminal trip to Islay approaching the feelings of distillery withdrawal were running high at BibCup HQ. Thank goodness for the tip off then.
When you hear about a small whisky distillery in London what do you imagine? A dank basement? A few marooned Scots desperately trying to put together something that resembles aquae vitae? Perhaps a rough looking frontage that’s secretly funded by Tesco or Unilever? Dispel such thoughts immediately as they couldn’t be further from the reality of Bimber’s fine little offering.
Nestled just off the A40 the first thing that strikes you when you walk through the door at Bimber is the wall of casks sat at the back of this compact distillery. Stacked four high these great casks, some virgin, some ex-bourbon and a few ex-sherry or port demand your attention as soon as you enter. Fully one third of the limited floor space is devoted to coming up to three years’ worth of spirit, all slowly maturing into what is hoped will be a clear, light and yet heavily flavoured whisky.
That whisky is slowly taking shape and BibCup was lucky enough to be treated to a taste of what is to come. Although still very young the new make spirits that are available are already taking on the flavours and textures of the casks, copper stills, barley and water that make them. From the fiery ginger of a 2016 ex-sherry distillation to the smoother vanilla notes of a new make aging in virgin american oak the infant spirits are extremely promising.
The guys at Bimber are keen to point out that what they’re doing is not an attempt to create an ersatz Scotch Single Malt, nor a twist on a Suntory classic. What they are trying to do is make a whisky for London. Those values run true in the fact that the barley all comes from one farm in Berkshire (the guys have a field or two with their name on it). Then the water is sucked from the Thames, purified (thank god), and then run through the Barley and the stills.
The whole process then takes place in this small corner of the capital in two magnificently shaped stills. The stills, ah the stills. These are the true beating heart of Bimber. Two small copper stills stand quietly just behind the front-of-house bar. Unassuming at first but on inspection remarkable. Onion-topped rather than the traditional witches hat shape that is famous around the world these Spanish manufactured beauties allow an incredible amount of contact between the copper and the new make. They also force the condensed spirit to return to the pot, so reducing the amount of oils in the spirit and producing that light fresh taste that they’re after.
BibCup cannot recommend Bimber highly enough. The first whisky will be available next year and should be a great addition to the London market, for the moment you can get hold of their excellent gins and vodkas or sign yourself up to receive some of the first bottling of the hotly anticipated whisky.
In the meantime check them out at their website – www.bimberdistillery.co.uk