A gin lover’s guide to picking the perfect craft gin

Liberation London Dry Gin by Sky Wave Distillery in Bicester

Liberation London Dry Gin has been launched to celebrate the easing of lockdown. - Credit: Sky Wave Gin

Rachel Hicks from Sky Wave Gin in Bicester reveals the secret to finding a sumptuous craft gin that makes your tastebuds sing.

Q: Why don’t you begin by telling us what craft gin is?

A: Craft gins are truly special spirits, crafted by hand and often in small batches, they represent the distiller's passion for creating a superb gin with great provenance.

For example, we handpick foraged blackberries from the Oxfordshire hedgerows for our Signature London Dry and use Blenheim Palace natural mineral water for an exquisite finish. Every full-sized bottle is hand signed with the name of the day’s distiller. Drinkers feel a direct link to the source of their gin. 

Rachel Hicks and Andrew Parsons, founders of Sky Wave Gin Distillery in Oxfordshire 

Sky Wave Gin has won 15 awards since 2020. - Credit: Sky Wave Gin

Our Signature London Dry Gin is created using the perfect balance of 13 botanicals from around the world and is distilled using the one-shot method. This creates its fabulous full-flavour. The recipe took over six months, 40 different blends and 300 testers to get it just right.

Q: What inspired you to make your own gin?

A: It started in 2018 when my husband Andy and I were hunting for the perfect gin for his birthday present. Struggling to find it, we decided to craft our own. We attended gin school and developed the London Dry Gin recipe as a special tribute to Oxfordshire. Ecstatic with the results, we decided to launch our own gin.

Two years later, that same gin was named World’s Best Contemporary Gin at The World Gin Awards 2020. It’s been a steep learning curve and one hell of a journey, especially opening our new distillery during coronavirus, but one that I wouldn’t change for the world.

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Q: Why is a trip to the distillery the perfect gift to share with others?

A: The Sky Wave Distillery experience is the ideal occasion for gin lovers. You can take part in an immersive gin tasting session, led by one of our distillers, meet our range of gin stills and hear the Sky Wave story. 

The experience will be launched for the very first time on May 21, 2021 for up to six guests, expanding to 14 guests from June 21, 2021, Covid-19 regulations allowing, but our brand-new shop is already open for guests to drop by. 

The distillery is located at the historic Bicester Heritage Site, the former RAF Bicester base and now home to vintage vehicle specialists – classic car shows and Sunday Scrambles are a regular event. It’s a beautiful and inspiring place to visit.

Sky Wave Gin wins World's Best Contemporary Gin at the World Gin Awards 2020

Rachel and Andy collecting the award for the World’s Best Contemporary Gin, World Gin Awards 2020. - Credit: Sky Wave Gin

Q: What’s next for the distillery?

A: Excitingly, we’re about to launch a brand new gin, which will be perfect for the summer, so watch out for it. We’re also seeing a huge demand for our Liberation London Dry gin, which we developed during lockdown to reflect the spirit of that period and the nature we enjoyed all around us in Oxfordshire. We’ve used raspberries, lemon verbena and subtle sweet hints of vanilla. What better way to celebrate our newfound freedom with friends? 

It’s just won a silver medal in the London Spirits Competition 2021 and will make the perfect gift for Father’s Day, as well as our Limited Edition Cask-Aged gin. Rested in a vermouth barrel, and with fewer than 400 bottles in existence, it’s an ideal present for gin connoisseurs.

Raspberry and Rhubarb Gin from Sky Wave Gin Distillery in Bicester

Bursting with fresh, fruity flavours Sky Wave Raspberry and Rhubarb Gin is an idyllic summer tipple. - Credit: Sky Wave Gin

Andy has also just been shortlisted for World's Best Master Distiller at The World Gin Awards 2021 – he’s one of eight distillers worldwide to make the list, and to date, we've won 15 international awards. We’re blown away by, and so grateful for, the support and love of our community and are immensely excited for the future.

Q: How can people replicate the perfect G and T at home?

A: Choose a gin that you love - our dry, full-strength Raspberry and Rhubarb gin is bursting with fresh, fruity flavours and is perfect for summer. Forget balloon glasses – they’re so big and you lose the taste of the gin - and be sparing when you pour the tonic. Finish it with a gorgeous garnish – a sprig of mint and a handful of fresh raspberries is my personal favourite in this one!

Visit skywavegin.com to book a visit to the distillery and explore their range of premium craft gins. Email info@skywavegin.com or call 01869 713813.

Follow them on Instagram at skywavegin_ for the latest news and updates.