Handcrafted in the heart of Norfolk
Sited on the family farm at Dunton in West Norfolk, Archangel was founded by two friends who worked together in London in the early ‘90s. Jude de Souza and Peter Allingham began converting some old stables back in autumn 2016 after Jude suggested that gin production was perfect for some farm diversification. By 2019, the gin had won its first award and the business had been given North Norfolk’s “Best New Business” award too.
“The family planted quite a lot of juniper bushes 20 years ago for pheasant cover – so we had some local botanicals from day one in our gin” Peter tells us. “Since then we’ve planted another 150 bushes, as well as growing our own sea buckthorn and lemon verbena. I’m afraid the pheasants don’t get a look-in these days – as soon as the berries are ripe, we have them!” The botanicals are the heart of the range; the classic ‘Archangel Gin’, the navy strength ‘Seraph’ and the Rhubarb Gin Liqueur. The latter was created almost by accident. Alongside the sea buckthorn bushes, Jude noticed some ancient rhubarb plants which were certainly there when Peter’s grandfather bought the farm in the 1940s. Jude tried making several different batches “but none of them were really up to the mark until we discovered a new technique using a by-product from making our classic gin. The results were outstanding and now we take about three tonnes a year of Norfolk rhubarb grown near Swaffham”.
The distillery is on one of the medieval pilgrimage routes to Walsingham – pre 1538 this was one of the most important shrines in the world. All the Archangel products have water from Walsingham in them and both Peter & Jude are both Catholics and Peter is a member of a religious order. “There’s a long tradition of religious orders making drinks. From Chartreuse to many of those lovely Belgian beers, keeping pilgrims fed and watered on pilgrimage routes has been a practice for centuries!” says Peter. “Before we began production, the distillery, including the still, was blessed”.
Gin In A Time Of Pestilence
The covid crisis has certainly changed things for Archangel. Peter organises the website shop. “Since March, we’ve been even busier with mail order than we were last Christmas. With so many of our retail outlets closed, people are turning to online ordering in a big way”. The Distillery Tours have had to be put on hold for now too. These were a regular feature with a talk, gin tasting and a tour of the distillery. Jude can’t wait for them to re-open. “These were so much fun. We both love entertaining our visitors and the distillery is very quiet at the moment – other than the clink of bottles being filled! Nothing bad lasts forever, though, so we all just have to do our best and soldier on”.
01328 744 436
Archangel Distilleries Ltd, The Distillery, Dunton Hall, Fakenham, Norfolk NR21 7PG