Jin Reaper – How it all began

We are Jan and Steve. For us, Jin Reaper came about over many years, first learning the craft of gin making from the very best in the business, and then perfecting our own unique recipe using what we had learned from our own research, building up a perfect tasting journey with a flavour wheel. In this way we created the ultimate gin tasting experiences with our three signature Sheffield gins: Grim, Evangeline, and Ferryman.

Learning gin-making with Alfie Almayo

Our journey began with a gin-making course in London, with the London Distillery Company. This was hosted by master gin craftsman, Alfie Almayo, who has since established Cambodia's first gin distillery, Seekers Independent Spirits.

Learning flavour profiles with Olivier Ward

We also learned how to craft flavour profiles from Olivier Ward, the editor of Gin Foundry, and the resident gin expert on Sunday Brunch. For gin tasting, we use a taste-wheel, with the frontal tastes at 1 o'clock, and the finishing notes at 11 and 12 o'clock. For the perfect journey of flavour, we ideally require one ingredient from each hour of the flavour wheel, so each variety tells a full story in the mouth.

Ideas in the pipeline

While the idea of creating our own distillery was still very much in the pipeline, with suppliers and equipment yet to be acquired, we had a chance encounter with a supplier of neutral grain spirit while on a distillery tour in York. This set in motion a sequence of action, where we acquired two stills, and established a reliable supply of ingredients, to begin our gin making adventure!

Testing to perfection

We spent many months practising and fine-tuning our art, experimenting with ingredients and offering samples to customers of the café we ran to see which gin varieties were best received. Eventually we happened on a combination that proved a huge hit, and Grim was conceived! With further refinement and adjustments, we created what we feel is our masterpiece gin, and this has been borne out by the awards and recognition the gin has received.

The inspiration behind Jin Reaper

Jin Reaper is an anagram of Jan's full name, and the underworld theme brings an element of macabre romance to the gin making industry. We added Evangeline, the Grim Reaper's bride, and the Ferryman, inspired by Charon, the Greek ferryman of Hades, who carries the souls of those who have passed away across the river that separates the living and the dead.

A real cottage gin making business

We have two T500 stills, one of which we use for Grim and Ferryman, and the other is used exclusively for Evangeline, as this is our spiced gin. Despite being based in our garden shed, the distillery is very sophisticated and has everything needed to make a complete gin. Together with a few other great gin distillers, we are hoping to revive the great Sheffield gin making industry.