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Warley (Nr Birmingham),
Better known as Langley due to its location, this distillery is owned by W H Palmer Group, a family owned company whose main activity is not distillation but chemical compounding and wholesale. Indeed the group only began distilling when they took over these premises and its dormant gin distillery in 1955.
Originally a brewery, distillation started here in 1902 as a result of the Victorian gin boom when local publicans clubbed together to purchase the brewery and install stills. Founded in 1805, the company’s current Managing Director, Adam Wallis Parmer is the Great, Great Grandson of the founder.
Three underground spring fed rivers converge under the distillery. Although the water is not pure enough to charge the stills, it is used to cool the condensing columns. So for all the stories of underground springs it is local tap water that is actually used for distilling.
Langley boasts an array of pot stills, including what is claimed to be the oldest working copper pot gin still in the UK.
Still No.1 – Used for rectification rather than gin production.
Angelia - 3,000 litre capacity copper pot still made in 1903 by John Dore & Company of London. This is claimed to be the oldest working copper pot gin still in the UK. Formally known as Still No.2 it was renamed after the Managing Director’s mother.
Spare Still – No.3 circa 1917 – 3,000 litres capacity has not been used since the distillery was mothballed in the late 1940s due to its hard to access location behind the other stills.
Carter Head Still – The No.5 still at Langley is not presently used.
Constance – The No.6 still is another but slightly different shaped John Dore still, circa 1917, this 3,000 litre capacity still is named after Master Distiller, Rob Dorsett’s, late mother.
Jenny – (still N0.7) is the newest and at 10,000 litre capacity, the largest still. This was installed in 1995 and its installation involved a hole being made in the roof so it could be dropped in by heavy crane. Rather embarrassingly it was not long before that crane was back and the newly repaired roof opened up again, as the new still started popping bolts and was close to exploding the very first time it was used. Six months worth of repairs and it was back and has been a reliable lady since.
Langley do not produce finished gin, as there is no bottling line on site. The distillery produces concentrate which is reduced to bottling strength at wherever it is to be bottled. This could be practically anywhere in the world and it is not unknown with some brands for further flavouring to occur at the pre-bottling stage.
Langley distil eleven different gin recipes which end up labelled as dozens of different gins. Some are specific recipes according to particular supplied brand specifications, others are standard Langley recipes which end up as ‘own label’ gins.
All the gin concentrates produced here are distilled to a strength between 77% and 80% alc./vol.. After distillation the distillate is then blended with neutral spirit to make a concentrate at around 94% alc./vol. which is then sent in tanker trucks or plastic containers to various bottling plants where it is reduced to bottling strength.