Tour Adnams Distillery in Southwold & Taste Suffolk Gin, Vodka and Whisky

by | Nov 9, 2016

Adnams Distillery, Southwold, Suffolk

Adnams is the first brewery in England to produce high quality spirits directly from malted grains all the way through to the finished product. Take the Adnams distillery tour for a taste of how it’s done.

Copper Rectification Columns Adnams Copper House Distillery Southwold
On Adnams distillery tour in Southwold you’ll see how they make vodka, gin and whisky

The Suffolk seaside town of Southwold is best known for its brewing heritage and its colourful beach huts. People still flock to the town to sip a pint in the The Lord Nelson pub after a bracing walk along its sandy beach.

But there are new stars in the Adnams drinks cabinet. In pubs and restaurants across Suffolk, bottles of Adnams gin and vodka sit behind the bar. Take the Adnams distillery tour, as I did, and you’ll learn how they do it.

Ideal for a wet and windy day when you want to take refuge or, for a fine day, when you’ll get one of the best views of Southwold from the top of the distillery building. Go home with a bottle of their Longshore vodka – it’s lovely.

The Foodie Travel Guide

Adnams Copper House Distillery

After a visit to a bourbon distillery, Jonathan Adnams and his head engineer, John McCarthy, decided to build a small distillery in the heart of Adnams historic brewery in Southwold.

Choosing a room that once housed the old brewing coppers, they invested £700k and opened the Copper House distillery in 2010.

The grand plan was to use a beer wash, fermented in the brewery, to distill high quality vodka in small batches. Just like their beer, the wash would come from grains grown in East Anglia – barley, oats, wheat and rye.

See How Vodka is Made From Local Grains

The tour of Adnams distillery starts by showing you the beer stripping column where the alcohol is stripped away from the beer wash. It produces ‘low wines’ which are diluted and go into the Copper Pot still.

In conjunction with two huge rectifying columns which rise majestically to the ceiling, the different alcohols are separated out to make vodka. It’s a hot and stuffy environment and a process that requires surprisingly few people.

Adnams distill three distinct vodkas using different grain washes.

East Coast vodka, voted ‘the World’s Best Vodka’ at The International Wine & Spirit Competition 2014, is produced from a barley wash; Rye Hill, from a predominately rye wash; and Adnams Longshore vodka, from one combining barley, oats and wheat giving it a warm creaminess.

Adnams Copper House Distillery exterior
Adnams Copper House Distillery building

The rectification columns soar to the distillery ceiling

See How Adnams Make Their Gin

Unlike many gin distilleries that buy in a neutral grain spirit to make their gin, Adnams can use their own vodka.

They dilute it before adding to the pot, botanicals such as juniper, coriander, cardamon, and orris root – from the iris flower. The contents of the pot are soaked overnight and heated up like a giant kettle and redistilled.

If you feel inspired when doing the gin tour, sign up for Adnams ‘Make Your Own Gin’ experience. Using mini copper stills, you can create a gin recipe by selecting botanicals you like and go home with your very own a bottle of gin.

Botanicals Adnams Gin
Choose your own botanicals on the Adnams gin making experience

Mini Copper stills for Make Your Own Gin
Mini copper stills used to distill your own gin

Pomme Pom and Whisky

On Adnams distillery tour, you’ll also see that they love to experiment.

Hogan’s cider is distilled and stored in oak barrels for 2 years to produce Pomme Pom, a 40% apple spirit, similar to Calvados, and there’s whisky too.

Although young in whisky terms, they have released both a 3 year-old single malt, and a triple grain bottled in 2013. You see whisky barrels in the cellar including those made from French virgin oak which imparts a vanilla flavour and helps to age the whisky more quickly.

Adnams Copper House Dry Gin
Adnams Copper House Dry Gin

Bottle Adnams Rising Sun gin
Adnams Rising Sun gin made using rye vodka

Tasting Notes

At the end of the tour, there’s a tutored tasting in Adnams cellar bar where you’re invited to try their gin, vodka and whisky.

For a different gin tasting experience, try Adnam’s Rising Sun gin. It’s a gin made from rye grown on Jonathan Adnam’s farm in Raydon, a name which literally means ‘Rye on the Hill’.

With 8 botanicals in the recipe, including lemongrass and matcha tea, it has an earthy flavour. Drink it with tonic and a warming slice of fresh ginger.

The Copper House gin with orange and hibiscus is delicious served with Indian tonic water and a slice of orange. Try First Rate gin with a slice of lemon and a sprig of thyme.

  • The distillery building has lots of steps and floors that can be slippy, so make sure you wear flat, non-slip footwear
  • To find out about their brewing heritage, do the Adnams brewery tour
  • Pop into Adnams excellent shop and café in Southwold, it’s full of fantastic products for foodies
  • Visit the Aldeburgh Food Festival in September, held at Snape Maltings, and have a drink at Adnams Boat Bar


Dog Policy Mr Hendricks says, “They tell me that they love dogs, but they are not allowed in the Distillery. If you have a Guide Dog please contact them and they’ll do their best to accommodate you.”

How to Find Adnams Copper House Distillery in Southwold

Adnams Distillery, East Green, Southwold,Suffolk, IP18 6JW

Adnams Copper House Distillery


The Foodie Travel Guide

The Foodie Travel Guide

Sally is the founder and editor of The Foodie Travel Guide. She travels around the UK and beyond in search of the best foodie days out, tasting experiences and delicious places to stay. She loves a glass of English sparkling wine, afternoon tea with friends and escaping London for gastronomic adventures. 

Adnams Distillery Tour

  • Tour Adnams Copper House distillery
  • Admire the view of Southwold
  • Taste Adnams gin, vodka and whisky in the bar
  • ‘Make your own gin’ experiences available

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