It’s no secret that we Brits love a good old G&T and these days true gin-loving is all about finding local gins from small distilleries and then waxing lyrical to all your friends about your local find. In Suffolk & Cambs we’ve got some incredible small gin producers, including one of Muddy Stilettos’ absolute favourites – the award-winning Ely Gin Company
. No prizes for guessing where this company is based… yep, lovely historic Ely.
The company was set up back in 2012 by computer programmer James and his wife Nancy. Making their delicious fruity gins started out as a hobby and then turned into a full business venture after the success of their market stall at Ely’s Saturday market.
Now there are two shops – one in Ely and one in Downham Market – dedicated to all things gin. The company specialise in flavoured gins, and they only use whole fresh fruit with no flavourings and no colourings, so the taste isn’t too sweet – you get a primary flavour of really fresh fruit instead. There are 14 flavours to choose from (10 regular ones and 4 ‘whimsies’ that change seasonally) with everything from Breakfast Marmalade and Chocolate Orange to Rhubarb and Raspberry. The bottles are really stylish and can be personalised too, making them excellent gifts.
The company doesn’t just sell gins though. They have now branched out into flavoured Octagon Vodkas, think black pepper, coffee and caramel, and raspberry and rose. They also have their own honey company called Beatnik Bees of Ely, selling both local honey from their own hives and from other bee-keepers in the area, and also a honey-substitute for vegans.
You can buy the gin, vodka and honey online, but a trip to one of the shops is well worth it if you’re in the area instead. The two shops are quite different in character. The Ely shop is in a charming historic building in the Buttermarket and mostly focusses on the gin, vodka and the accessories to go with them like tonic, glassware, and cocktail accessories.
The newer Downham Market Shop, The Land of Gin and Honey, opened September 2019 in the Market Place and is bigger and, as well as the brand’s own products, also stocks lots of locally-sourced produce and showcases some of the best products that Norfolk and Cambridgeshire has to offer. There’s everything from gift hampers and gin chocolates to chilli jams and alcohol marmalades. Local producers include Harrison Chocolatiers’, Downham Cider, Chillis Galore, Wolf Brewery and Norfolk Amber. In fact, owner James is very proud of the fact that 81% of the products they stock are made in the U.K., with 70% coming from East Anglia.
The best news? They operate a try-before-you-buy policy meaning you can taste the alcohol before you decide which flavour you want to take home. Now that’s our kind of shopping. Hic!