Thursday, February 22, 2024

Terrific Terlingham – Superb Gin Made With Bacchus Wine On Kentish Vineyard

Matthew Steeples samples Terlingham Vineyard’s Bacchus Dry Gin; it’s made with the last of this Kentish winery’s 2020 Bacchus wine yet still is clearly a classic, dry gin

To the Romans, Bacchus – known by the Greeks as Dionysus – was the god of wine and intoxication, but now most appealingly for those that like to imbibe in more spiritual pleasures, a Kentish vineyard at Hawkinge, near Folkestone has crafted a gin using its very own Bacchus wine.


“Confounding most predictions,” there has been a stratospheric growth in the gin sector with 124 new distilleries registered in the UK and sales with volumes approaching 1 billion litres per annum worldwide in 2020 to 2021 alone. Those making this clear alcoholic beverage have thus had to get more innovative in their creations in order to attract attention and sales and ‘experimental’ offerings have come to dominant a seemingly overcrowded marketplace.


Whilst ‘Lobstar’ – a cringeworthily captioned “maritime gin” I once tried made with macerated lobster left me thinking it “anything but a catch” and wanting to simply “claw back to something traditional” – a much more appealing example comes in the form of Terlingham Vineyard’s small batch dry gin. It is limit to a production of just 1,300 bottles and though unusual still has that dominant taste of the key ingredient that makes a gin a gin, juniper.


Made with what they term a “magic ingredient” of the last of their 2020 Bacchus wine and in partnership with south west London based Rebel Distillers, this 40% ABV gin has notes of elderflower and gooseberry from the wine and a mix of orange peel, honey, nettles and rhubarb as botanicals. The resulting creation has a smooth and sophisticated palette and resultingly Forbes magazine labelled it one of the “world’s best 9 new gins” in August this year.


Of what she calls a “delicious and as kind to the earth as possible” gin that offers a “taste of the Kent coast,” Jackie Wilks, a member of the family that have owned Terlingham Vineyard since 2011, recently told Kent Live:


“We distill some of this wine into an eau de vie, and add it into the gin as one of the botanicals, it is a classic dry gin. We start with traditional juniper and add some locally found botanicals including rhubarb and nettle, collected by hand here in Folkestone… The feedback we’ve had on the gin has been it has a depth and smoothness that is unusual… And that the flavours are fascinating, and they develop with each sip.”


Terlingham Bacchus Dry Gin can be bought online for £38.50 per 70cl bottle by clicking here.


Pictured Top – Bottles of Terlingham Vinyard 2020 Saxon Shore Bacchus wine and the small batch dry gin that it also goes into making.


Editor’s Note – Unlike as is the case in many publications, this article was NOT sponsored or supported by a third-party. Follow Matthew Steeples on Twitter at @M_Steeples.


The Wilks family – Graham and Lorna and their daughters Jackie, Caroline and Ashleigh – bought their Kentish vineyard in 2011 after moving to the UK from South Africa. The vines there had been planted in 2006 and in the years since they have farmed it in a natural way without any artificial pesticides, fertilisers or herbicides. They proudly state of it: “As we learnt more, we realised we weren’t comfortable with what we were putting into the soil and its impact on the local plant and animal life. We took the leap to move to natural farming over 8 years ago… We encourage the natural wild grasses and flowers that grow amongst the vines, and we welcome the bees, butterflies and spiders that accompany them! We do everything in the vineyard ourselves, by hand, and we make our wines in a traditional, low intervention way as well. Our 2022 carbon footprint audit gave us a negative 11.9 tonne footprint, which means that we are a carbon sink for the area! The farm also has an ancient woodland running along the east boundary, which is a local sanctuary for biodiversity homing a number of rare and indigenous species. The vineyard has been in organic conversion since 2022 and will be fully certified by 2025.”
In spite of being just 15 minutes drive from the hustle and bustle of Dover and just 8 minutes drive from the Channel Tunnel, this biodiverse vineyard is in a delightful location on the Kent Downs and prides itself on its ecological viticulture.
The makers suggest that their gin is best enjoyed with a sprig of mint and a lime wedge; I enjoyed it most served as a large measure in a tumbler with just ice and tonic.

Wise Words About Gin…

“Let the evening beGIN!”



“I don’t know what reception I’m at, but for God’s sake, give me a gin and tonic.”

The well-known gin lover and husband of Margaret Thatcher, Denis Thatcher.


“Life is too short for single gins.”



“Red meat and gin.”

America’s answer to Keith Floyd, Julia Child, on the reason for her longevity.


“I love water, especially when it’s frozen and surrounded by gin.”



“Myself, I’m a fan of the gin without the tonic. Why on God’s great earth would you want to water down such masterpiece?”

Reader of ‘The Steeple Times’ ‘The Stray Cat.’


“I exercise strong self-control. I never drink anything stronger than gin before breakfast.”

American actor and comedian W. C. Fields.


“Gin-drinking is a great vice in England, but wretchedness and dirt are a greater [vice].”

Charles Dickens, ‘Sketches’ (1836).


“When life gives you juniper, make gin!”

Holistic health author Laurie Buchanan.


“Don’t cry over spilt milk, it could’ve been gin.”



“If you’ve had enough, pour yourself a G&T, you have my permission.”

BBC Radio 4 ‘Woman’s Hour’ presenter Anita Rani on home-schooling parents during the January 2021 lockdown.


“Every Friday in lockdown, my neighbour has left a delicious gin and tonic at my front door. Beats tinned tomatoes hands down.”

Madeline Glancy of Prestwich, Lancashire in a letter to ‘The Telegraph’ in May 2020.


Night school tutor: “Write a horror story in six words.” Student: “I-have-run-out-of-gin.”



“A perfect martini should be made by filling a glass with gin then waving it in the general direction of Italy.”

Noël Coward.


“The proper union of gin and vermouth is a great and sudden glory; it is one of the happiest marriages on earth, and one of the shortest lived.”

American historian Bernard DeVoto.


“The gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen’s lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the Empire.”

Winston Churchill.


“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

Humphrey Bogart as Rick in ‘Casablanca’ (1942).


“Gym? I thought you said: ‘Gin.’”



“The only time I ever enjoyed ironing was the day I accidentally got gin in the steam iron.”

Comedian Phyllis Diller.


“Stop saying I’m hard to buy for… You know where the gin aisle is.”



“Gin drinkers are sassy, classy and just a little smart assy.”



“You’d learn more about the world by lying on the couch and drinking gin out of a bottle than by watching the news.”

American radio personality Garrison Keillor.


“Fortunately, there is gin, the sole glimmer in this darkness. Do you feel the golden, copper-coloured light it kindles in you? I like walking through the city of an evening in the warmth of gin.”

French philosopher and journalist Albert Camus.


“I tried to say no to gin… But it’s 40% stronger than me”



“I’ll stick with gin. Champagne is just ginger ale that knows somebody.”

Dr. Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H.


“Things, since you left, have not gone well with me: they have taken me from a place where there was gin to a place where there is no gin.”

British barrister and detective story author Sarah Cockburn (pseudonym Sarah Caudwell).


“According to chemists, gin IS a solution.”



“Gin is not A solution. It is always THE solution.”

Reader of ‘The Steeple Times’ Shaun Keaveny.


“Gin and drugs, dear lady, gin and drugs.”

The reply of T. S. Eliot when asked about inspiration.


“It’s always gin o’clock.”



Matthew Steeples
Matthew Steeples
A graduate of the London School of Economics, Matthew Steeples is a writer and marketing consultant. He conceived The Steeple Times as a media arena to fill the void between the Mail Online, The Huffington Post and such organs as the New York Social Diary in 2012.



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