The Distillery operates in a stunning location which we do the utmost to protect and preserve. We are situated on the Albury Estate in the heart of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We are adjacent to The Silent Pool, which dates back to The Ice Age and is renowned for its tranquillity and natural beauty.
Our rural location is a constant reminder of our need to work sustainably to minimise our impact on both the local and wider environment by reducing our carbon footprint and waste. Since we first began in 2014, we have altered and improved the way we operate in many aspects, from installing solar panels on our roofs to turning organic waste into electricity. We also try to support local businesses where we can, sourcing honey from a neighbouring beekeeper, which in turn significantly reduces fuel usage.
Our original 350l still Juliette is heated using a steam boiler, The Major, that was originally made in 1870. We purchased it from a steam heritage site in Kent and then repurposed it to meet our needs. It is fired by well-seasoned local hardwood, supplied from the Albury Estate where we are situated. This keeps fuel miles to a minimum. The 16.5kW of solar panels on our south-facing distillery roof produce electricity which is fed into the National Grid. In the first two years since its installation in March 2018 we produced 31.6 MWh of energy.
Our larger 1800l still Ophelia has a boiler that is fired by hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) in place of red diesel. This is made by refining 100% renewable inedible waste or residue food stock. This renewable fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%. The still houses are heated by our Biomass boiler using local hardwood that's been cleared to maintain the forest - meaning no trees have been cut down for the purpose of heating, they're reused.
The still house also has a closed loop cooling system. This takes advantage of the ambient air temperature and so uses a small amount of power on all but the hottest of days. It consumes less water than conventional cooling systems and allows us to use excess heat from the distillation process to heat the distillery building during the winter months.
Our products and retail:
Silent Pool Gin bottles and stoppers are glass, capped with tin. We ditched poly laminate capsules in 2018. Our botanical ingredients are ethically sourced. For instance, the juniper berries we use are a forage crop.
Silent Pool Gin contains honey which we source from a neighbouring beekeeper. This makes our honey more expensive than other options but by supporting this local supplier we have helped build the number of hives from two to twelve.
Our Rye Grain Vodka is filtered using locally made charcoal and our botanical-scented soy candles are housed in recycled Silent Pool Gin bottles.
Our Silent Pool Gin refill machine was engineered from an underused 50l still. Customers bring their empty bottle to the distillery shop, push the button and The Dragon does the rest (read more about it here ).
We are phasing out our current stocks of recyclable plastic bags and will be replacing them with strong (bottles of gin are heavy!) paper bags. We use PET tasting cups in our shop and on our tours. This is the most widely recycled plastic in the UK. Our new gift vouchers are made from recyclable plastic. We serve mineral water in glass bottles and will soon be switching to a local bottled water supplier from the South Downs.
Waste, repairing and reusing:
We minimise waste and repair and reuse wherever we can, both for sustainability and because it costs to take waste away. The most obvious example of this is our 150-year-old wood fired boiler which heats our original 350l still. Our local deliveries vehicle is an ex-BT van, now wrapped in our Silent Pool Gin livery. We also buy second hand equipment if feasible - many of our stainless-steel tables, fittings and racks were bought on eBay.
We re-use any fit for purpose packaging such as pallets and cardboard boxes, and all cardboard and clear plastic is baled and recycled. If possible, we only ship when we have a full truck load. All of our organic waste from production is transported to an anaerobic digester where it is used to create methane and in turn electricity. The remaining waste is made into fertiliser.
We contribute financially to the upkeep of the Silent Pool including funding the eradication of non-native weed from the pool and restoring and maintaining the natural plant life in the pool and surrounding area.
We are a significant local employer and the majority of our staff live within 20 minutes of the distillery. We are a part of the Cycle to Work Scheme and our staff have access to a shower and an area to change out of their cycling kit.
We have planted a wildflower meadow and grow lavender on our patio to encourage bees and wildlife to the site. The roses on site were originally displayed at our RHS Chelsea Garden before being moved to the distillery, as were the decorative metal panels that hang in our courtyard.