Just around the corner from the Vivienne Westwood and Victoria Beckham HQs, the Testbed1 building is also home to a range of unique businesses; Street Kitchen, The Doodle Bar (who take great pleasure in using Dodd's during cocktail experiments), a Persian art gallery Edge of Arabia and McGuigan's Gym.
The London Distillery Company's delicious Dodd's gin was the official drink at our Gentleman's Evening earlier this season. So impressed we were with TLDC's potent Negroni cocktails, that we decided to pay them a visit on home territory. Located in the Testbed1 arts venue, a former Victorian dairy just south of Battersea Bridge, we had a great afternoon talking gin, whisky and their south London home.
The London Distillery Company moved in during September 2012 and after a lot of hard work, the two-man team (Darren and Andrew) began selling their Dodd's gin in February 2013.
As the only London distillery with a licence to make spirit from grain, the long term plan for TLDC is to create London's first whisky in over a century, but in the meantime they have been creating Dodd's gin, an organic, hand-crafted, small batch gin made using a unique method. You'll find it at Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols and online.
So, what's the story behind TLDC?
Having already worked on a plan for TLDC, Darren came across information about entrepreneur, Ralph Dodd, who tried and failed to seek investment for a London distillery in 1807 after growing tired of the poor quality spirits in Britain at the time. Dodd considered it a necessity, a virtue and a 'national good' for such a company to exist. So, over 200 years later, Darren and Andrew picked up where he left off and created Dodd's gin as a tribute to Ralph's endeavour.
How is the gin made?
Dodd's gin is created in a rather stylish copper still named Christina (after Darren's wife) and is made using an organic wheat-based spirit, juniper, angelica root, green cardamom, black cardamom, red raspberry leaf, bay laurel, fresh lime peel and honey, locally-sourced from urban bee hives at The London Honey Co.
The juniper offers the gin a nice black peppery taste, the angelica root is a fixative and helps to retain the smell and taste, and the honey doesn't give sweetness, but a lovely viscosity and some floral, citrusy top notes.
Christina can make 140 litres a go which works out at about 170 bottles. The spirit is then left to marry for four weeks.
What will be next?
Whisky! Created in a still named Matilda (after Darren's gran), TLDC take as much care over their whisky as they do their gin and a similarly bespoke process takes place to create one cask at a time. 3 year-old oak barrel-aged whisky will be the result - which hasn't been achieved in London for over 100 years.
Once we'd finished the fascinating tour, we were set to work by Darren. TLDC label, box-up and send out every single bottle of gin themselves, so to earn oursleves a drink we were given the task of sticking on a few labels - as straight as we possibly could. Much harder than it sounds...
And so, with our labelling done, to finish our afternoon, we sipped on the loveliest gin and tonics we'd ever had, complete with slow roasted juniper berries and a frozen lemon twist. Cheers!