Bristol Cathedral and spirit producer collaborate to launch new gin

A Bristol-based spirit producer has collaborated with Bristol Cathedral to launch a new limited edition gin

Chapterhouse Gin, created by Espensen Spirit, is inspired by herbs and spices grown and used by monks like those who lived, worked and worshipped in the Augustinian abbey which later became the Cathedral.

The unique spirit was made in a copper pot still before being compounded with botanicals including chamomile, coriander seed, angelica, lemon peel and even frankincense.

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Espensen Spirit has produced 500 bottles of the limited 45 per cent ABV gin, which is priced at £39.99 for the 70cl version and £6 for 5cl from its website.

The name Chapterhouse comes from the Cathedral’s Chapter House, the room in which a chapter of the rule of the community was read each morning.

You can find Chapter Houses in nearly every cathedral in the country to this day.

The production of this gin has been co-funded with the Friends of Bristol Cathedral, who exist to fund projects which enhance the stunning place of worship.

Sam Espensen, co-founder of Espensen Spirit, said: “Inspired by the Augustine monks and their gardens, I used traditional herbs and spices for the botanicals including chamomile flowers, angelica root, coriander seed and lemon peel.

“I also wanted to take some inspiration from life inside the Cathedral, so the gin contains a tiny bit of frankincense – also known as the smoke of the angels.

“We use traditional bathtub methods at Espensen Spirit, so the gin is first distilled, then the botanicals are infused into the gin in tubs – resulting in its beautiful pale yellow colour that comes from the chamomile flowers.”

Sam said producing a gin such as this has been a “dream project for me” as cathedrals have always been part of her life.

“I lived in Wells, went to university in Canterbury, graduated from that Cathedral and now I live in Bristol,” she added. “I have always been fascinated by and felt at peace in them.

“The team at Bristol Cathedral have been an absolute dream to collaborate with. They’re inclusive and great fun to be around.”

A bottle of Chapter House gin
The gin features traditional herbs and spices including chamomile flowers, angelica root, coriander seed and lemon peel
(Image: Nicci Peet Photography)

The Very Revd Dr Mandy Ford, Dean of Bristol Cathedral, said: “Cathedrals and religious communities have been associated with brewing and distilling for centuries.

“This gin reflects that heritage and celebrates the flavours of our herb garden, with a hint of mystery from the frankincense which is used as a symbol of prayer in worship. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Sam at Espensen Spirit on this project.”

Espensen Spirit produces a wide range of delicious gins, vodkas, whiskies and rums in Bristol.

The business was co-founded by Sam and her business partner Phil Gillies. Sam has been making booze for her friends and family for years, and in 2015 went into partnership with her friend Phil to turn her recipes into a one-of-a-kind business.

Together they also operate a LGBTQI+ bar and a bottle shop specialising in female drinks producers.

For more information and to order the new limited edition gin, head to Espensen Spirit’s website.

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