From grain to glass

Read about how a CLA East member has diversified into the gin industry

A Lincolnshire CLA member has launched a new gin business having returned to the family farm and found herself inspired by her family’s milling heritage.

Mill Farm is a family farm in South Lincolnshire and home to brother and sister Lily and James Craven. The farming business was started by Frank Craven, who worked as the miller producing flour for baking and animal feed in the 1900s.

A natural progression saw Frank purchase the land surrounding the mill so that his sons could grow the wheat he needed for milling. Five generations later it is Lily and James who are the custodians of the same land.

Lily returned to the family farm after graduating university with a degree in psychology and has focused her work on enhancing the farms sustainable farming ambitions. James graduated with a degree in economics and politics and following international work and travel on an orange and banana farm, oversees the production and harvesting of the wheat grown in harmony with nature on the farm. Together, they are now using the farm grown grain in their new gin, Tipplemill.

“My brother, James, and I are fifth generation Lincolnshire farmers and wanted to produce the absolute best London dry gin using the grain that we grow,” says Lily. “We hope that by sharing the journey from field to glass we can show the time, effort and dedication that UK agriculture puts into growing food in harmony with nature.”

Finding a balance where farming and nature can flourish together is a fundamental principle for the family. At Mill Farm they take a proactive approach to enhancing biodiversity and where logical for them to do so, let areas rewild. There is careful hedgerow management, a close attention to soil health and flower rich field margins.

“By using our own wheat instead of purchasing industrial ethanol we have complete control over how our gin is produced,” says Lily. “We not only know exactly where it was grown but also have the confidence in the sustainability of the agricultural practises which support it.

“Taking a proactive approach to enhance biodiversity and soil health means that we can relax and know that Tipplemill not only tastes great but also that is great for nature, including the farmland birds and animals which are a crucial part of our ecosystem.”

Tipplemill grinds the grain from the farm between the millstones of the tallest working windmill in the UK to produce the all-important wholemeal flour needed to make the base alcohol spirit.

The family have partnered Ramsbury Brewery & Distillery Co. Ltd to help turn their flour into their base spirit. The process of making Tipplemill’s base spirit involves six complex operations which require precision, constant monitoring and, importantly, patience. The stills are heated using steam produced by a biomass boiler and any wastewater from the distillation process is filtered using reed beds. The spirit is distilled in a copper pot still with selected botanicals to produce Tipplemill gin. The recipe is inspired by the Elderflowers that grace the farms hedgerows and sweet fennel that grows in the botanical garden at the farm.

Lily and James have sought to create a gin that is grown in harmony with nature. There is certainly plenty of spirit in this farming family.