Raising a glass with Cicely Elliott-Berry from Sibling Distillery

With just over a year in business under its belt, Cheltenham-based Sibling Distillery is going from strength to strength, attracting plaudits for its gin. SoGlos catches up with Sibling director, Cicely Elliott-Berry, to get the lowdown.

Cicely, tell SoGlos readers a bit about yourself and where you work.

My name’s Cicely Elliott-Berry, I’m 19-years-old and I am one of the directors and distillers at Sibling Distillery, a Cheltenham-based gin distillery, run by me and my three siblings: Felix, 23, Clarice, 21, and Digby, 16.

What training did you do?

My family background is in brewing as my parents own Battledown Brewery, and using that knowledge we all taught ourselves and each other to distil.

What’s the best thing about your job and why?

I get to do different things every day, travel to new places, learn new things and then come back and do what I love. Distilling is the passion, but alongside that I’m very grateful to be a part of managing the whole direction of the company, and making decisions with my brothers and sister.

How long has Sibling Distillery been established?

A year and week! We launched at the beginning of June last year, but started work on it about 10 months prior to that.

Did your parents inspire you to set up the business?

Yes, absolutely, and not just because they’re in the industry. They’ve run many businesses together and taught us a lot about hard work and making things happen for yourself, not waiting for things to come to you. I think things would have been very different if we hadn’t have all grown up with the same ideas and motivation to do something different.

What’s it like to work with your brothers and sisters?

It works for us. We’re lucky to all have strengths in different areas; Clarice is quieter but organised and takes care of a lot of the bureaucracy that comes with the drinks industry. Felix is responsible for marketing and design, and organises our exporting; and I plan our events and PR, and schedule what goes on at the distillery. We all, including Digby, do the manual side of things, which is a huge part of our time, as we do everything from making the base spirit to bottling in house.

What is Sibling Distillery’s drinks specialism and how does it differ to others locally?

It’s a contemporary gin, with smooth and soft flavours. For us it’s all about making the most refreshing and delicate gin possible, that can be sipped over ice or mixed with tonic to make a delicious G&T.

Where do you source your ingredients from?

From all over the world, both near and far. We use the best of everything, which means vanilla from Madagascar and water from Cleeve Hill in Cheltenham, where it runs through naturally occurring Fuller’s Earth.

Tell us about your setup.

Well, we have the first glass and stainless steel distillery in the world, which is pretty cool. And we also make our own vodka, to make the gin from, which is very unusual nowadays in distilling, as there are a lot of alternatives.

Is there a particular cocktail that works well with your gin?

It goes well into cocktails as it’s softer than lots of traditional British gins. I personally love it switched into a mint julep instead of bourbon, but Felix loves very short cocktails and it makes a beautiful French 75.

What is your personal, all time favourite drink and why?

Ah, so many! In the winter I love to drink red wine or good bourbon and in summer an Aperol Spritz is amazing, but then you can’t beat really good G&T, can you? That’s a really boring answer but it’s true!

Does the industry face any particular challenges?

It’s a competitive, fast-paced and exciting industry. There are huge challenges, and unless you know that everything that you do is the best it can be, then you don’t stand a chance. But, as for the gin-making industry on the whole, I think we’re doing pretty well.

What do you get up to outside of work?

Anything outdoors and / or food-related. I love eating out, cooking, baking and trying new things. To counteract that I love being in the gym, walking our two big dogs and rock climbing, and right now I’m training for a running event with my boyfriend – which I’m pretty terrified about! I also love to travel as much as possible.

Where else do you drink in Gloucestershire and why?

I love John Gordon’s, it’s very relaxed and comfortable, and I enjoy going to country pubs after walking the hounds; we’ve got plenty of good ones around here.

Are you a fan of beer as well? If so, which is your favourite Battledown beer?

I don’t drink too much beer actually, sorry dad, but when it’s hot my favourite is the Blonde, it’s light and refreshing but still has a proper flavour.

How do you think Sibling Distillery will have changed in a year’s time?

If the last year is anything to go by, it will have developed considerably. We’re constantly coming up with new ideas and projects, so I imagine we will be more international and probably even busier, but it will always be us at the wheel, so nothing too drastic.

Do you host any events or have any special offers you think our readers might be interested in?

We have recently done a few master class events, where we go into a wine club or group of any kind of interested group of people and give them a lesson in distilling and how we do things. There’s also The Strand’s Gin Festival in August, that should be a great week-long event.

For more information see Sibling Distillery or call 07882 125969. Plus, don't miss our round up of 6 of the best Gloucestershire gins featuring Sibling Distillery.

By Anna McKittrick

© SoGlos
Friday 12 June 2015

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