How to Drink Sing Gin with Richard Thompson

How to Drink Sing Gin with Richard Thompson
Disclaimer: Some of these posts contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation if you click on these links and buy something, but, don’t worry, it won’t cost you a dime!
Richard Thompson, Sing Gin, Yorkshire

Yorkshire is known for its turbulent weather and wildly romantic hills and dales, which influenced not only the Bronte sisters but our guest today.

We have Richard Thompson, Co-Founder of Sing Gin, with me today on the program. When his father brought home a still, they were not sure what would come of it. Throwing caution to the wind, he and his family produced an award-winning gin that comes from and is tied to the Yorkshire landscape.

He is here to tell us what transpired. In the words of Emily Bronte, kind of, we’ll discover: “It was not the flax bending to the gin, but the gin embracing the flax.”

Our cocktail of the week: The Sing Gin Floradora!

Sing Gin Floradora
Yield: 1

Sing Gin Floradora

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

The classic gin Floradora cocktail recipe made with Yorkshire's Sing Gin! A treat for either summer or winter!

Ingredients

  • 50ml Sing Gin
  • 20ml Fresh lime juice
  • 25ml Raspberry syrup
  • Ginger ale

Instructions

  1. Combine the gin, lime juice and syrup in an ice-filled cocktail shaker
  2. Shake, shake, shake
  3. Strain over cubed ice into a balloon glass.
  4. Top with ginger ale and stir gently
  5. Garnish with raspberries and a lime wedge

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

1

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 442Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 77mgCarbohydrates: 93gFiber: 1gSugar: 68gProtein: 0g

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Made this cocktail?

Take a pic and tag @alushlifemanual on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Cheers!

Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Richard. Just remember that I own the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of Lush Life podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as my right of publicity. So if you want to use any of this, please email me!

This transcript is sponsored by:

Susan: Don’t tell the other counties, but Yorkshire is my favorite. It’s those hills and dales. I was there for the first time in Autumn and there was fog and you could just feel the Bronte sisters were there writing. It is just heavenly. I know that your gin is from Yorkshire. So, tell me about growing up in Yorkshire and how you even started to develop Sing Gin.

Richard: Yeah, absolutely. I think, first of all, I think Yorkshire is known as God’s own country for a reason and perhaps the reasons you’ve just described. Born and bred in Yorkshire raised in a city called Leeds.  then I went away for university for five years and then came back to Yorkshire really five years ago.

I think Sing Gin came about because my dad, Ian, always wanted to create a family business and almost a legacy that he could pass down the generations. He walked in one day, but back in 2015, with this slight little copper still, and all these big boxes of weird and wonderful botanicals.

I think, at the time, we perhaps thought it was going through a bit of a midlife crisis. But at that point we let him go down into his cellar. He just started experimenting, trying to recreate the gins he loved until they found a recipe, which he was happy with.  I suppose he managed to gain our approval as well.

Susan: Was he always a gin drinker?

Richard: Yeah, always a gin drinker prior to Sing Gin. My parents have always had family businesses but they really wanted one, which myself and my twin brother James could get involved in, on sort of a day-to-day basis as well.

Susan: I mean, do you remember at home, was he drinking gin? Were you drinking gin? Was it the family drink or was it just – I want to create a business? I know my kids like to drink. I see the gin boom happening. I love Yorkshire. This is what I want to do.

Richard: Probably a bit of both. I think my parents have always really enjoyed gin. My mom’s celiac or gluten free, so she’s always tended to drink spirits more than perhaps beer or wine. Yeah, I think probably more than anything, they wanted a business which we could really get involved in and take forward with my parents as well.

Susan: And your gin drinking? Were you at school? I mean at university, should I say? Would you lean towards beer or were you also drinking gin or did you think that’s what the old people drank.

Richard: Perhaps. I did think that. Well, that’s what the old people drink. I think the university I went to; I think generally in a group of lads you drink a lot of beer. I think over the last five years, I think I’ve developed an appreciation for spirits, not just gin, but, vodka whiskey.

When you see what goes into the craft and the craft that goes into making Sing Gin for example, I think I then have gained more of an appreciation for the spirit and the taste of gin as well.

Susan: So, he comes home with the still and some ingredients. Were you thinking he was crazy or this is a good idea?

Richard: Absolutely. I think we all thought he was crazy at the time. But my Dad’s an entrepreneur and has been for all his life. He’s also an angel investor. He had this vision and, because it’s cool, we obviously want it to be involved. I went to Loughborough University. I studied a Bachelor’s Degree in construction and a Master’s Degree in business management.  I think I’d always wanted to be involved in small businesses or a startup business. Upon graduating and returning home, I joined a large project management consultancy graduate scheme.

To be honest, I soon realized it wasn’t for me. So, the timing couldn’t have worked better really because at that point I then spent 18 months with my brother, my twin brother, James basically building the brand and taking the product to market.

Susan: He’s downstairs with his still and ingredients. It’s not so easy to create an award-winning gin like you have. How long or what was his recipe and where did he start?

Richard: Yeah, of course. He started by creating the gins he loved. What’s unique about Sing Gin is it’s made from grapes. He first started looking at gins made from grapes, started to investigate how they were made, the process. Then he just started trying to almost recreate them. Once he got the hang of it, he had been on a distilling course, for a 10-day distilling course that summer. Perhaps that should have given us an insight that he was up to something.

Susan: Was that before he brought home the still?

Richard: Yes, it was before. So perhaps that should’ve given as a heads-up.

Susan: Now you said he liked the grape based gins. Was there one in particular that he was influenced by?

Richard: I think Nordes is a really great gin. It’s a Galician Gin. it’s inspired by the coast. It’s a brilliant product.

Susan: Well, having decided that it was going to be grape-based instead of grain-based, there are a lot of grapes out there. Where did he or how did he settle on the grapes that you chose?

Richard: Yeah, of course. I think, if I take it back a step that, and perhaps explain why we decided to make it from grapes. First, and I think the reason we wanted to make some gin from grapes is for two reasons. One, because we felt like grapes offer a real soft, fruity silky smoothness. I think in terms of texture of the spirit in terms of softness and mouth feel is very different to a grant-based gin, which is probably 99% of the market.

Secondly, we wanted to make it from grapes because we wanted to take the gin back to where it all started. When the world’s first juniper spirits were produced, they were made from grapes back in the 14th century. Then obviously the next question right now in the UK there are some great, great vineyards, and there are some great sparkling wines and wines. But to produce grape alcohol you need a real high volume of grapes, or wine,  and that’s not available in the UK.

So, we went to visit Spain and we went to a location called the Castillo-La Manca. In my best Yorkshire accent, which is, if you don’t know it, it’s the largest democratic vineyard in the world or the largest single vineyard, which is 400,000 hectares. It’s where they grow the grapes to produce Brandy de Jerez. Obviously over the last 10 to 20 years, the consumption of brandy in Spain has dropped significantly.  That presents distillers like ourselves an opportunity to purchase grapes or wine or grape alcohol from these regions and provide a means of income for the farmers.

We visited Castillo-La Manca and we found a partner there who was essentially responsible for a vineyard cooperative, which is a large group of vineyards. They purchase bulk wine and then distill it into grape alcohol. Now they were very excited because they don’t have a customer in the UK. So, they were like, wow, we’ve never worked with a British business before. My Dad spent about 18 months working with them to create a grape alcohol which blended well with our gin, with the flavor profile that we were looking for.

The grapes we make it from are two Spanish varieties of grapes the Airen and Macabeo. Airen is very common in that region.

Susan: Had he already picked which botanicals, I guess in theory, that he wanted to mix with the grape blend?

Richard: Yeah. So, we had a rough recipe. He’d created a flavor profile, but he needed to find the base spirit to match with it, one that we could purchase in volume as well. So, we only had maybe five liters of spirit, which was enough to do a few bottles, but we needed much more.  We couldn’t find that here in the UK.

Susan:  What kind of flavor profile was he looking for?

Richard: So, from a flavor profile, we wanted a gin which was very juniper forward, notes of citrus, floral. But the mouth finish and the feel of what he wanted was a spirit which would almost be like a tingle on the edges of your tongue when you tasted it. So, we’d leave a long finish and a tingle behind. That’s what he was trying to go for which he managed.

Susan: What are some of the botanicals he decided to use?

Richard: The botanicals we used were very simple. We have seven which include juniper, mint, orange peel. One, which is rather unique is flax or linseed. You may have heard of it. People throw it on their porridges or salads. It’s got really, really good Omega 3 fatty acids. We didn’t include it for that. We included it because it has a slight oiliness, which adds to the gin and florality. It also has a connection to the village, which is where my parents and I suppose the founders are from, which is a little village called Kettlesing. It was grown in that village centuries ago. So, we always wanted to be able to reintroduce that back into the area. It’s now grown on site, our distillery.

Susan: I guess you’ve kind of answered the question that I was going to ask, which is why flax and was it just a lucky guest that flax would work so well? You both wanted to bring it back to life in your town, but also put it in the gin. You know, it might not have worked.

Richard: Yeah, of course. I think we always wanted a botanical that would bring us back to the area. In the Yorkshire Dales or the bottom of the Yorkshire Dales, there isn’t too much to choose from. We did a lot of research before we launched the brand and flax, or linseed, was a plant, which was once grown in the area and we were really keen to bring it back. So, I suppose it was a bit of trying to fit that in, as well, into the final recipe.

Susan: All right. So, I interrupted you. So, you said, now tell me again, so juniper, orange peel, the flax.

Richard: Juniper, mint, orange peel, flax. We have Angelica Root. We have ginger root and we have coriander seed. That’s seven.

Susan: That’s pretty simple.

Richard: Yes.

Susan: How long did it take to get the recipe perfect?

Richard: It was about, I think, about 12 months. Developing the brand was probably one of the most difficult aspects. We’ve always stood by if we’re going to do something, we want to do it right. So, perfecting the brand, the tone of voice, the touch point, wherever you see Sing Gin, whether it be in the UK or overseas, we want you to have the same experience, whether you’re on our doorstep or not.

Developing the recipe at around 12 months, then trying to find once, we had the botanicals, it was then trying to find the partner in Spain which was the more difficult part.

Susan: Now you said you were talking about creating the brand. Was it a linear process where you first wanted to have the spirit and then you were going to create the brand or was everything happening together at the same time?

Richard: I think that the recipe was produced first. Then the brand followed. I think it can take a lot of years to get the recipe right. So, until we had that ready, or at least almost ready to go, we didn’t want to start working on the brand.

Susan:  Tell me a little bit about the brand work. How you came up with Sing Gin and your brand message.  What do you want to get across when people take that first sip or drink it in a cocktail?

Richard: Of course. The Sing name comes from a little village on the outskirts of Harrogate or in the Yorkshire Dales called Kettlesing which is where my parents and I suppose the founders live. The village was first noted in the Doomsday Book of 1066 and it’s located in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

That that really comes on to what we are all about. Sing Gin is inspired by the natural beauty of where we live and we almost want you to drink it in. Our strap line is “beauty’s only gin deep.”

Susan: By the way, I love that strap line.

Richard: That was my dad’s idea. He’s actually not that creative. So, for him, we were shocked as well.

Susan: All right. You may want me to take that out of the podcast because he will be listening to this episode. He was creative enough to come up with the gin. So, I’m going to disagree with you. He is creative.

Richard: I think in terms of values as a family business, family is everything. Our reputation is built on the connections we make. We aim to build long-term relationships with, not just our customers in the UK, but our customers overseas as well. Craft is really important, you know, whatever we do, we want it to be right.

It’s not worth doing if we’re not going to go and put 100% into it and make the product the best, we can make it. Then authenticity, being true to yourself and doing and executing the brand in the way we see fit and just being true to ourselves. Creating our values and, yeah, a difficult one to answer.

Susan: Oh, no, no, I think you’ve answered it well. Included in the brand message is the look of it, let me get down my gorgeous bottle, and the label and why you picked this bottle and the colors and things like that. Talk me through how you decided on what we see.

Richard: Of course. It’s quite heavy bottle. If you empty the gin contents, so when you finished drinking, it’s quite heavy bottle, which signifies quality. The bottle is a translucent ink wrap. So, it’s not like a label or a sticker. You can’t peel that off. It’s screen printed onto the bottle.

The colors of the bottle are gold and blue. The gold represents what we call a folly here in the UK. Follies are all about inspiring people and providing an uplifting experience. There is a folly near us,  a UNESCO world heritage site called Fountains Abbey.

The folly is actually gold there, which is why we selected gold for one of the colors.  Then the folly at Fountains Abbey is reflected. Not all follies are reflected into water, which is why the blue comes from on the bottle, as well. As you, look round, as the wrap around the bottle is actually the trees coming from behind the folly and we wove the botanicals into the tree line on the bottle.

But the coolest part is, on the front, there’s a gargoyle. He’s our fearsome gargoyle, he’s the guardian over our secret recipe. He’s on the front of everything we do, no matter what you see of Sing Gin, whether it’s booklets or advertising or marketing, the gargoyle is on everything we do.

Susan: By the way, Fountains Abbey is one of my favorite places in the world. In the world! Studley Royal and Fountains Abbey, the water garden there is spectacular. So, I was struck by that immediately. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I actually didn’t realize that it wasn’t a label when I look twice now, of course. it’s obvious. It is such a beautiful bottle, especially if you have that connection and you’ve been there and you know how beautiful it is.

Let’s talk about the taste. Someone who is new to Sing, what is the experience that you want them to have? Do you want them to try it neat first, are there any specific cocktails that you want them to try it in first?

Richard: Of course. So, I think in terms of tasting it neat, I think we’d always recommend that you try it neat. Before you try it in a Gin and Tonic or a cocktail, more than anything, you should get a real softness. It should be a really, really smooth gin. You shouldn’t get any ethanol harshness or anything like that. In terms of cocktails, I’m a huge fan of using Ginger Ale in cocktails.

Susan: That’s so American. I love ginger ale too.

Richard: It’s one of my Mom’s favorites actually, and she drank it a lot growing up. So, I think that’s where I probably got the taste for it as well.

Susan: You know, it’s funny because ginger ale and gin is not something that I usually see on a menu or anything.

Richard: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I think it’s perhaps more used in the at-home market. It’s not too common in restaurants or bars, but there’s an old classic cocktail, which is relatively unknown called the Floridora. I don’t know whether you’ve come across.

Susan: I have, I’ve had a rum Floridora before. I’ve never had a gin Floridora.

Richard: Nice. Well, you’ve got to try the gin Floridora, so it combines gin, fresh lime juice, raspberry syrup, and topped with a ginger ale. It’s very refreshing, very crisp. It’s just delightfully fruity, a soft cocktail, and it’s perfect in summer.

Susan: Oh, my God. It sounds so delicious. Now,  how about in the winter? You know, people always think of gin as the Gin and Tonic, summer cocktail, but you know, you can have it all year round. I was wondering if you do anything or you advise anything special with it.

Richard: Yeah. So, we do develop cocktails in-house for bars, restaurants. For a cocktail, we produced probably about two years ago, for an Indian inspired retreat, in the Yorkshire Dales, the Rose Gin Fizz. It’s Sing Gin, rosewater, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, and it’s topped with a sparkling wine or champagne.

You could drink all year round and I certainly do. It’s floral, it’s sweet, but not too sweet. You get the citrus from the grapefruit, and importantly, you can still taste the gin.  I think in any cocktails that we recommend, it’s so important that you can still taste the gin. It’s the perfect, the perfect cocktail for Christmas morning in our house.

Susan: Oh, I love it. I totally agree with you. It’s so funny. I once read an article, a very silly article about “girly drinks,” and one was to make the new Old Fashioned. So, they called it the New Fashioned, so that you wouldn’t taste the bourbon in it. I was thinking, why would you want to drink a spirit that cocktail where you don’t taste the actual spirit in it? That’s the whole point of drinking the cocktail is to taste the spirit. So, I’m so glad you said that.

Richard: Yeah. I think for us, we just have the one product and it’s a classic London Dry Gin. Something that flavored gins have done very well is that they’ve introduced, perhaps the younger generations to, all those over 18, to gin. I think as their palates develop; they tend to sway more towards the London Dry Gin. With just the one gin, it’s so important that people can taste the product and appreciate it more than anything.

We always said that we would stick on one product for the first six years. We really wanted to drive the brand into the market and build relationships and develop the brand. Then I think we will know when the right time is to bring that second product out.

Susan: Well, you know, having one product is fantastic, especially when you’re winning awards with that one product. So, tell me about you winning your first award and how that all came about.

Richard: Yeah, of course. When we launched the brand, we entered into our first competition, which was the internationally renowned IWSC, the International Wine and Spirit Competition based in the UK. but it’s a global competition and they receive thousands of entries each year.

A lot of products don’t score as well or don’t secure a medal. We were delighted to win a silver medal. It just shows the hard work that went into developing the brand, the time that we spent was worth it through winning the award.

Susan: What was the timeline from producing and selling your first bottle to winning the award?

Richard: Six months. Just after winning the award, we started working with Fortnum & Mason in London, the luxury retailer, and we was working with them as their November product of the month or spirit of the month. That was really exciting. From memory we were one of the best-selling gin ever as product of the month.

Susan: That is absolutely incredible. Six months from bottle to award. It’s a blind taste test!

Richard: Yeah, absolutely blind taste test.

Susan: It’s incredible. The judges have to taste so many and it is totally blind.

Richard: Yeah, they receive thousands of submissions from brands and distilleries all over the world. I think we’re going to be entering the San Francisco Awards next year. So, we’re very excited to see what comes off the back of that as well.

Susan: Well, I can only hope for a new product soon because the first one is so good. Are there any ideas floating around that you can reveal or is it still a secret?  

Richard: Work has already started on the second product. It’s in the early development stage. I won’t give anything away too much, but it will be made from grapes. I can’t tell you what grapes or where the grapes are coming from or how the grapes will impart flavor onto the product, but it will be made from grapes and,  yeah, it will be certainly very exciting.

Susan: Well, I can’t wait to try that. Now. I always ask two questions before we go. Can you give me some top tips for the home bartender?

Richard: Lots of ice would be the first one. I won’t pretend to be some world-class bartender or mixologist myself. I think I’ve been learning on the job over the last four or five years. Lots of ice and don’t be afraid to experiment. Some of the world’s most famous cocktails came through experimenting and, if you don’t quite have the correct ingredients, don’t be afraid to use something else to substitute.

Susan:  if you could be anywhere drinking anything right now, where would that be?

Richard: Although the Yorkshire Dales are beautiful. I have a soft spot for Spain, not only do our grapes come from there, but I think, as a country, and good weather, which sometimes in the UK, we don’t have. It has great food, great drinks, and a place in particular is Seville,  which just does great vibes, an amazing city.

Susan: Oh, I can’t wait to hop on the plane and get over there too. I agree. I agree. Well, thank you so much for introducing Sing Gin. I can’t wait to make another cocktail, try one of your Floradoras or the Rose Fizz sounds amazing.  Thanks again for being on the show. I really appreciate it.

Richard: You’re very welcome. Thank you for having me and the opportunity to chat with you today.

Susan: Of course!

Don’t miss out on any Lush Life episodes!

You can get this and all future audio files automatically downloaded to your mobile device easy. If you’re on iOS, you can listen on Apple Podcast. It’s easy to Google Podcasts or Spotify too. Or click the player or link above to listen to just this episode. (But trust me, you’ll want to subscribe!)

If you live for Lush Life would you consider supporting us by buying us a coffee… Just go to buymeacoffee.com/lushlife and you can donate once or monthly to make sure we are still here every Tuesday.

Lush Life Merchandise is here – we’re talking t-shirts, mugs, iphone covers, duvet covers, ipad covers and more covers for everything!  and more!

Theme music for Lush Life is by Steven Shapiro, and used with permission.

Lush Life is always and will be forever produced by Evo Terra and Simpler Media Productions.

Download the audio file



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Skip to Recipe