The Secret's Out!
The basement of a 17th century, Grade I-listed castle in South Wales will be converted into a craft spirit distillery, bonded warehouse, gin school and visitor experience as part of a £7 million scheme to bring the castle back into use.
The 400-year old Hensol Castle, which has been used as a backdrop in BBC dramas including Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes and Torchwood and sits in the grounds of the four-star Vale Resort, will become a flagship tourism destination. Visitors will be able to distil their own bespoke bottle of gin made to their own specific taste in our gin school. They will be able to look around the distillery operation, learn about the history of gin and Hensol Castle, discover the ingredients that go into the different gins and enjoy a gin tasting and cocktail bar, perfect for an incentive group.
Hensol Castle Distillery, meanwhile, will produce a range of spirits for commercial sale including entry-level, mid-level and premium-quality gins, vodkas and other spirits including an exciting low calorie, low sugar and low alcohol range. The ambition is for these to be available in local pubs and restaurants as well as major supermarkets, wholesalers and cash and carry outlets.
Hensol Castle Distillery is a joint venture between the Leeke family, who own The Vale Resort and Leekes, and the Mallows family who own Bottlers and Distillers Wales. Current Vale Resort directors, Stephen Leeke and Mike Fowler, are joined by father and son team, Andy and Rhys Mallows, to form the new board.
Stephen Leeke, managing director of the Vale Resort
This is a hugely exciting development at the Vale Resort...the distillery experience set in the basement of a beautiful Grade 1 listed building will be something totally unique, not just in Wales but globally. It is a key part of our strategy for the re-development of Hensol Castle and its destination restaurant, which will focus on the very best of Welsh food and drink.
The distillery is part of a wider redevelopment at Hensol Castle, which has already included turning the once derelict castle into a first-class conference destination. The introduction of a top-end restaurant will follow.
Andy Mallows, director of Bottlers and Distillers Wales
I’ve been working in the alcohol trade industry for most of my life, and it’s clear that craft spirits, and gin in particular, are booming – some are even calling it a ‘gin-aissance’... The joint venture has the perfect blend of skills and experience. The Vale Resort provides years of tourism expertise of running one of Wales’ preeminent resorts while I have spent 25 years selling global brands such as Budweiser, Bacardi and Jack Daniels, before becoming managing director of Dutch distillery, Toorank. We all complement each other’s skill set to create a unique business proposition.
The visitor experience, gin school, and production facility will open later this year sign up to the gin club at www.hensolcastledistillery.com
The Vale Resort is an independent 4 star resort and includes 143 bedrooms, 13 conference suites, restaurants and champagne bar, award-winning golf courses and sports faciltiies and a five-bubble spa. The resort is set in 650 acres of Welsh countryside.
Hensol Castle is a 400 year old castle formally known as Hensol House and is a castellated mansion in the Gothic style dating from the late 17th century. Located on the same grounds as The Vale Resort the castle is surrounded by landscaped gardens and a 15 acre serpentine lake. Hensol castle can be hired exclusively and has meeting space for 308 delegates plus dining facilities.