Get to know the stories and team behind No.1 Fairham Gin from Lancashire. The Gin Guide caught up with Founders Ellis McKeown and Liam Stemson to find out all about their gin and distillery, how it all started, the biggest achievements so far, their favourite gins, and what plans they have for the future.
What did you do before creating your distillery and No. 1 Fairham gin?
Both of us are still working in the non-gin roles that we were in before we decided to create our gin brand. Ellis works in a marketing role for an automotive company and has previously held roles within football, working in social media. Liam works in sales for a computing company and is enjoying his fourth year there currently. The two backgrounds come together as a nice mix and have massively helped us to get our brand off the ground. The long nights and weekends are all worth it when people tell us how much they are enjoying our gin!
What made you decide to create your gin and distillery?
We have both always been gin lovers and it was probably only a matter of time before we took the plunge and created our own. In the lead up to lockdown in March 2020 we had been tasting a lot of mainstream and craft gins and believed that there was a market for a new gin that would stand out from the crowd, something that would break from the mould and would be unique to itself in terms of smell, taste and profile.
How did you get from the idea to the finished product?
When lockdown hit, we suddenly had more free time in the evenings and weekends to properly put a plan in place and decide what direction we wanted to take our brand in. This involved buying our own 3 litre traditional copper still and turning our outhouse into a small distilling room. This is where our brand and gin was born and why we decided to name ourselves after our home address on Fairham Avenue.
At this point we were researching and testing how to distil and as we knew we wanted to include exotic fruits, some of which that are not commonly used to make gin, this made it even more difficult to be able to get the balance right in a recipe. We were stubborn in not wanting to just release any product and were willing to wait as long as it would take (also Covid pending!), so fast forward 12 months and we finally reached our finished product and our Signature Edition was released in April 2021.
Sometimes it’s surreal to think that something we create ourselves from scratch is being poured in people’s homes and they are enjoying it just as much as we do!
Can you tell us about your distillery?
We obviously knew that we could never run a distillery from our home so in October 2020 we moved into a small unit that is 5 minutes down the road from where we live in Penwortham, Lancashire. A lot of cleaning and installing took place so we could make it fit the ideas we had and we are now at the point where we have a fully functioning distillery with a 60 litre traditional copper still that we both prep and manage to create our Lancashire craft gin.
Can you tell us about your distillation process and botanicals?
Our gin is created through 100% vapour infusion, something that we decided on when researching at the very beginning. Vapour infusion is commonly used in gin distilling, but not so much as the sole method. As we use delicate exotic fruits like guava, kumquat, physalis and kaffir lime, this process protects them from being boiled. Instead their natural flavours are picked up by the vapour as it passes through a bespoke basket that we had created to sit in the column of our still, above the belly, with none of our botanicals or fruits ever touching the base spirit.
The result of this method gives you a smooth profile full of fresh citrusy flavours, exactly what we wanted to create to make our gin stand out. Our Signature Edition gin also stands at 45% ABV and doesn’t get chill filtered (meaning you will notice a pearlescent haze when it’s chilled) – there are details that we decided to include so every natural flavour was kept in our gin for everyone’s enjoyment!
What have been the biggest achievements so far?
There are a lot of things that we still can’t quite believe have happened in the three short months that our craft gin has been launched. Some special moments for us include selling out of our 100 pre-order bundles in two days, which as a new brand we were very scared about! Another is keeping true to our eco-friendly values with plastic-free packing and teaming up in an exciting partnership with The Ribble Rivers Trust, where every 70cl bottle buys a tree sapling to be planted in the Lancashire area.
However, I think something we can both agree on is that the favourite part of our journey so far has been seeing the reaction of our customers, whether that is when they have bought from us directly or tried our gin at one of our amazing stockists. The feedback we get means a lot to us as new young small business owners and sometimes it’s surreal to think that something we create ourselves from scratch is being poured in people’s homes and they are enjoying it just as much as we do.
How would you describe your No.1 Fairham Gin in 3 words?
Modern. Citrusy. Impactful.
What’s your favourite way to drink your gin?
Well, we know people nowadays love gin just as much with lemonade (a sin to some!) as they do with tonic. So we made sure that our gin went well with both, with some gins becoming too sweet when mixed with lemonade or certain tonics. But our favourite Signature Edition serve has got to be in a large glass filled with ice, a 50ml measure and topped with Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic. This may sound a bit cliché, but we don’t think our gin needs any garnish to accompany it, but if you love a bit of colour in your glass then go for a fresh citrus slice of either grapefruit or orange – perfect!
Which gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!)?
One craft gin that we both love is Porter’s Gin from Aberdeen in Scotland. We admire their process and forward thinking and both their Modern Classic and Orchard Gin are beautifully made and should proudly sit on any craft gin lovers shelf (alongside ours of course!).
What’s next for you and No.1 Fairham Gin – any exciting plans?
We are currently really busy with customer and stockist orders as well as the events/markets we are attending, so in between all of that we are also in the exciting process of developing our next edition that we are hoping to release in the coming months – watch this space!