Wharf Distillery - the true spirit of artisan

To expand our range of unique and wonderful artisanal spirits and liqueurs in small batches for pure indulgence and spiritual enjoyment

Galleon Wharf, Old WolvertonThe Project

We aim to create a distillery brand to promote our wonderful range of artisanal spirits and liqueurs, and to purchase a second copper still in order to ensure that we satisfy demand without diluting the essence of what we are about. Here at Wharf Distillery our goal is to create products with unique flavours in small batches for pure indulgence and spiritual enjoyment.

A Brief History

Our apple brandy miniaturesIn 2009 we started collecting apples from the back garden, scrumping apples from manor houses and remnants of old orchards scattered in and around Milton Keynes to make traditional still cider. Initially intended for personal consumption, production exceeded expectations to the point where we decided to create a company called Virtual Orchard to sell the excess cider. In May 2011 we were awarded Gold Medal Champion Cider of Britain - not bad for Milton Keynes - and in September 2013 gave up the day job to make cider full time. Today we produce around 30,000 litres of cider a year, all from locally grown apples.

In 2011, a chance meeting with a small distillery saw the introduction of our apple brandy and in November 2014 we purchased our first copper pot still Velocity (every still has to have a name) in order to create the spirit ourselves. We like to do the whole end to end process. In 2015 we started producing malt spirit for two local breweries and in December 2015 we laid down our first whiskey in an old Madeira cask.

A Little Bit Different

Our still 'Velocity'You may have guessed by now that we like to do things a little bit differently, or unconventionally should I say. That's because we are passionate about individuality and expression of character, and this is reflected in all that we do. Our Apple Brandy is unique and each batch is subtly different in character from the last, a celebration of the variation between each vintage and blend of cider.

Our other spirits are no exception. We have carefully selected some great oak for our whiskey, (unusually) some chestnut casks for our rum, and Beaujolais hogsheads for a special reserve oak aged apple brandy. Vodka will arise from local milk whey and limoncello from waste lemons left over from a contract pressing we do for a green juice company. We don't like waste. Our vodka will be made from sugar beet grown in East Anglia. The malted barley for our whiskey is English, and malted and crushed locally in Milton Keynes. We have a low carbon footprint of which we are proud.

The Road Less Travelled

Our home by the Grand Union CanalSo far everything we have done has been under the umbrella of Virtual Orchard. However, we now think it’s time to create a new brand for all the great spirituous delights that we have, or have planned for the future. To really move things forward we want to create and promote Wharf Distillery as our flagship brand for all our artisanal spirits and liqueurs. We also want to get a second still to enable us to increase production to satisfy the demand for quality artisan spirits.

To be clear, we are not about mass production. In context, our first still Velocity only has a capacity of 300 litres. This means that each batch is never more than around 100 bottles of spirit. So a second still is not likely to take us into the realms of mass, or industrialised production. This is truly small batch, craft distilling as it was 2000 years ago.

So what makes us truly different? Many, possibly most, new micro distilleries don’t actually distil the base spirit from scratch, they buy in ethanol from industrialised distilleries and then redistill the spirit to create their gin. At Wharf Distillery we do everything from base ingredients, so we know exactly where everything has come from and control the entire process from start to finish. We even fill the bottles and add the wax seal by hand.

Small batch distilling gives a flavour and character that cannot be matched by the large producers. But don’t take our word for it.

How You Can Help

To achieve our dream we need a little bit of support. We need to firstly buy a second still which will not only allow us to increase production but will also allow us to increase the range of spirits we produce. Secondly, but most importantly we need to create a stunning brand to launch Wharf Distillery as a ground breaking artisanal distillery offering unique and sought after spirits and liqueurs. Lastly, we need to create a legacy… a legacy of keeping things true, pure distilled products, small batch and distinctive.

Every donation will not only be supporting a new distillery but will also be supporting the craft of pure distilling, and will enable a few more people to enjoy the rare gems that emanate from our efforts. This is our dream which we hope you’d like to share.

Laurence Conisbee

Cider Maker & Distiller

Laurence (cider maker & distiller)

Notes on Rewards

  • If you are purchasing a reward as a gift then we are more than happy to provide a gift certificate which can be redeemed directly by the recipient
  • Corporate rewards may also be purchased by private individuals or groups. They can be tailored to suit as other options may be available, e.g. a cider making workshop, a tasting evening with buffet. Please contact us directly to discuss alternatives
  • Spirits and liqueurs will be subject to availability