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New brandy distillery Burnt Faith opens in London

The first dedicated brandy distillery on the British Isles, Burnt Faith, has officially opened as of today (30 March).

Brandy distillery Burnt Faith is located in London

The Burnt Faith distillery is located in Walthamstow, northeast London, and houses the only Charentais pot still to have been imported into the UK.

The facility spans 5,500 square metres, and includes an exhibition space.

Simon Wright is the founder behind the new venture; he previously established Hawkes Cider, which was sold to BrewDog in 2018.

“This three-year journey was inspired by a trip to Cognac, which triggered the seed of the idea for Burnt Faith,” Wright commented. “I left inspired, not by what Cognac brands are but more by what they could never be.

“Compared to most spirit categories, there has been virtually no liquid innovation in brandy, especially as the appellation rules for Cognac keeps production very traditional.

“But this opportunity inspired our ethos to create a ‘brandy without boundaries’, as we aren’t restricted by the same laws as a Cognac. We don’t need to follow those rules, so why would we?

“We are free to unleash what we believe is the true potential of this category; using more aromatic grape varieties, explorative production techniques and different ageing casks is just the beginning.”

Batch 001 ready to launch

The inaugural release from the distillery, Burnt Faith Charentais Distilled British Brandy – Batch 001, is made from four grape varieties: Trebbiano, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Muscat Blanc.

The brandy has been aged and finished in four different cask types, including an ex-cherry liqueur cask from Ukraine, a Pineau Charentes cask, a Spanish brandy cask, and ex-Bourbon barrels.

Bottled at 40% ABV, the brandy will retail for RRP £36 (US$44) per 700ml.

The first release: Burnt Faith Charentais Distilled British Brandy – Batch 001

The packaging was designed by creative agency Contagious. It was inspired by the old Pentecostal church that used to stand on the distillery’s location. The church also inspired the brand name, Burnt Faith. The term ‘brandy’ derives from the Dutch word ‘brandewijn’, meaning ‘burnt wine’.

Oliver Kitson is the master distiller at Burnt Faith. His experience includes helping to set up and scale up the Sipsmith distillery in Chiswick, London, and launching grape-to-bottle distillery The Republic of Freemantle in Australia.

Kitson commented: “We want Burnt Faith to drink like an XO, have the light, fruity, floral top notes of a VS and the cost of a VSOP.

“But because we’re not trying to be a VSOP or XO, we’re free to harness all the flavour and blur the lines between all aspects of the liquid. We can balance the treble and the bass in our mix to create something entirely new – not just copy something that already exists.”

The distillery has also appointed Jean-Dominique Andreu as non-executive director. Andreu boasts decades of experience in luxury brand strategy for large corporations, and helped to launch brands such as Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Plantation rum, and Citadelle gin.

He noted: “There’s a lot of interest and curiosity in Cognac circles about this project, as Burnt Faith will be able to experiment with different grape varieties and cask finishes in ways that simply aren’t possible under an appellation regime, and it’s exciting.

“Simon’s a true entrepreneur and has been a lot of fun to work with, and I’m very happy to back him up and be a part of this journey.”

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