Introducing our latest partner, Colwith Farm Distillery
To celebrate National Potato Day, we’re proud to introduce our latest local partner and sustainability pioneers, Colwith Farm Distillery. We recently visited the farm to find out more about the business and their unique ‘plough to bottle’ process from Head Distiller, Jordan and Marketing Manager, Eily.
The award winning Colwith Farm Distillery is a business with a difference. Nestled five miles inland from the south coast of Cornwall between Fowey and Lostwithiel, Colwith Farm is Cornwall’s first plough to bottle vodka distillery and is one of the few businesses in the UK making their own alcohol from scratch. We caught up with Eily, who has been with Colwith Farm Distillery since 2018, and asked her more about the business and their achievements to date.
Tell us about how Colwith Farm Distillery started and how the business decided to take the route of plough to bottle?
The idea of building the region’s first plough to bottle distillery was thought up founder Steve — one of the family’s sons — and a friend. Steve had had a successful career in construction but was looking for a way to move home to the farm and add value to their crops — producing premium vodka from their potatoes seemed like the perfect solution!
Tell us about the use of potatoes and how you decided to go down that route?
In 1904, Steve’s great-great-grandfather, Stafford Dustow, bought a quaint little Cornish farm named Colwith. Over the past 100 years, the Dustows have tended the soils and various livestock, carving out a humble yet wholesome lifestyle which they cherish. It was during World War II that the family started growing potatoes to feed the nation. Since 2010, the potato growing operation has expanded from forty to four hundred acres.
Can you tell us about your sustainability journey and how your business and your products are sustainable?
We set out with a clear ambition to create an authentic ‘plough to bottle’ process that would not only minimise our impact on the planet but also produce an exceptional product. Our vodka distillery operates fully on renewable energy and our water comes from a bore hole and a natural spring, which cools our stills. The water that we use for blending our spirits rises from an aquifer located a hundred metres beneath the distillery and, due to its high quality, requires minimal treatment and purification.
Our potatoes travel less than five miles to the distillery for processing so the food miles are minimal, and in 2020 we installed photovoltaic solar panels to reduce our electricity consumption. Since 2021, 100% of the electricity consumed within the distillery has come from renewable sources. We also turn all the waste product (each bottle of vodka requires five kilos of potatoes!) into stillage which we then spread onto the grassland, creating an entirely circular rotation. The spirit bottles are recyclable and all the packaging is recyclable or compostable.
What have been your most prestigious awards?
Our delicious Cornish Aval Dor Vodka has won the prestigious platinum medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition — the first British vodka ever to have achieved such success! Our Aval Dor Dry Gin also received a gold.
Is Colwith Farm Distillery open to the public?
Yes, we are a working vodka distillery but open to the public for tours and tutored tastings four days a week. Guests are welcomed with a G&T and learn how we transform our potatoes into world class spirits, sampling our vodkas and gins straight from the source. They can even distil their own bespoke gin or flavoured vodka to take home and share with friends!
Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
We are currently running our Sundowner Sessions for 2023, a new Friday evening food and drink experience with live music, as well as our 30-minute Tasting Spirits Flight experiences, complete with beautiful views over the rolling countryside. We will also be offering a big Harvest party in October with farm to fork feasting and live music.
Forever Cornwall has teamed up with the distillery to give one lucky winner a Guided Distillery Tour and Tutored Tasting for two people — just head to our Forever Cornwall Instagram page to take part!