About Bristol Dry Gin
Bristol Dry Gin was founded in 2016 by David Blatch, who brought unbridled creativity and extra digits to the distillery, and Brett Hirt, who became both the looks and the brains of the business.
The distillery was established in the medieval cellar of the oldest Inn in the city, and after a failed exorcism, the duo mopped up and installed an Austrian built still and a Russian built laser mounted on a child’s scooter. An accord was reached with the resident ghosts, and the distillery was ready to start producing spirits.
After a year of development, extensive testing on themselves and the public, and one hospitalization…the first commercial product from the distillery was launched into the local market. Bristol Dry Gin’s 40% classic gin started to be distributed to local shops, bars and restaurants, and was firmly aimed as far below the premium bracket as possible. Mindful of this history of gin, and its resurgence among the quaffing foodie class, they wanted their gin to be enjoyed by friends who wanted to talk with a gin, rather than those who wanted to talk about gin. They proved that a beautiful, high quality, boutique gin, didn’t need a titanium name tag, and an expensive glass bottle in the shape of a benzene molecule, so adopted the slogan “Gin for The People.” Bristol Dry Gin continued to develop new products, as sales took off in the local market and in the disreputable parts of Europe. Dockers Strength at 55%, a tribute to a female dock worker who was good with her hands, and Turbo Island Edition at 75%, which was tailored for the burgeoning homeless population of the city, was soon launched and quickly gave the distillery a maverick reputation. Larger, more experienced brands looked on in horror as their antics and ill-thought-out products refused to backfire and send the business into the oblivion it seemed destined for. International recognition came soon after, when the young company released their 75% vodka, called Novichok Edition, at exactly the wrong time. Articles appeared all over the world including Spanish language pieces and a mention on Radio Sputnik World Service. Amazed by how well the product ad had been received by some, and how much it upset others, Bristol Dry Gin sent bottles to the emergency crews and military personnel involved in the clean-up of Salisbury. Novichok Vodka still has its own display at the International Vodka Museum in Riga and continues to sell in large quantities to both those involved in foreign espionage, and basket weavers.
As many successes as there have been, there have also been spectacular failures, which litter the shelves of the distillery, including Stags Heart Water and Hare’s Hair Vodka, though David maintains that the latter just needs even more time to age. These bottles of disappointment provide the perfect end to the tasting sessions held every weekend at the distillery, which welcome visitors from all over the globe. The team always takes the opportunity to introduce guests at these events to the products of all the distilleries in the city.
The latest release to defy good sense and all boundaries was the pink gin made with five classic gin botanicals then infused with strawberry and rose, called Five in the Pink. These unfortunately named bottles grace back bars in high end hotels, luxurious cocktail bars, and every year are wrapped up and put under Christmas trees for wives and daughters to open on Christmas morning. Christmas is also a special time for bartenders, who look forward to receiving their “Customer Management Aids” from the distillery. After extensive testing and focus groups, Bristol Dry Gin found that, over the festive period, the best way for a bartender to inform an overly exuberant guest that they were no longer welcome was to issue them with sweets lovingly printed with “F@ck Off”.
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Before Bristol Dry Gin, in South Africa, David was employed by a supermarket. They had shopping carts in the shape of beetles for parents to wheel their kids around in. David’s sole purpose was to clean the carts of the bodily fluids left by the children. He claims that this was where he developed his acute sense of smell, and his individual style of handling drunk people. Brett studied law, and hoped that when he graduated, he could become a professional tw@t. He didn’t really make the grade in the corporate world, and nobody really understood that dungarees were acceptable for the office if you ironed a crease down the front of each leg. David and Brett first worked together on bars for a while and underwent a series of projects which were doomed for failure before they’d even started distilling. Cocktail flavoured vapours, e-liquids and a blue cheese liqueur were all memorable ones, as was aging rabbit meat in hops for a year. Nobody died during any of these projects, except Powderpuff the rabbit, but apparently, he was not a good rabbit anyway. They started small and funded themselves with savings, lies and hope. Brett had to cry in public twice, but they got the job done and survived the first year. Distilling has been going on for a thousand years and it’s not that complicated, and you don’t really need to spend massive amounts on equipment but get insurance if you plan to blow any of it up. So, that’s exactly what they did. They also got a cat and gave it an email address, so they had somewhere to direct any situations that became difficult. It would also instinctively leave the room just before someone did something unintelligent and dangerous, so it acted as a good early warning system. We’ve all always had a passion for booze, as evidenced by David’s behavior last Friday night. We want to apologise to all the venues involved, and we’d like to get in touch with the owner of a red Volvo. Anyway, more than passion, David and Brett had to have the bravery to start distilling. Sometimes things exploded, sometimes the Portman Group told them that they had to rename all their products. And sometimes people just stared at them in a disapproving way…just like the cat often still does. Our ideology is essentially that if more than twenty people tell you not to do something, and you think it is probably illegal, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t crack on and do it anyway. You can always issue an apology in the local paper…
The dynamic duo now works well together with Brett coming up with the witty anecdotes related to Bristol on the back of each bottle, and David doing all the art and label designs. David’s creative space is anywhere that he can plug in his laptop and headphones. Brett claims to have more of a special seat (more like a throne with a cistern really) which he uses as his place for putting the text together. If the text makes us in the distillery smile, and makes his mum roll her eyes in disappointment, then we print it. We like to differentiate ourselves from other gin producers, by our unrelenting professionalism, close alignment with ritual druidism, and our unnatural ability to summon battle unicorns for marketing purposes. We also have a great knack for sarcasm.
As for our future, David will have at least one trip to the clinic. We’re also developing a gin with a Cathedral which we’ve given the top-secret code-name “The Gin for Jesus Project”. We’re hoping that sales will be buoyant, our souls being saved, and David’s test results come back negative. We’re also in the process of acquiring a much larger still with an explosion prevention device, and cup-holders. The journey continues, as the team expands to include all types of waifs, strays, offenders and degenerates who all add extra ingredients to the business and the gins.