Meet our customers: Dà Mhìle

Wednesday 19 October 2016

This month we hear from John-James Savage-Onstwedder of Dà Mhìle, makers of artisan organic spirits and liqueurs - including a seaweed gin

How did your business start?
It all began with John Savage-Onstwedder who started as an organic farmer in the 1970's. He witnessed the emergence of organic wines and beers coming on to the market and thought to himself, "there's no organic whisky", so he decided to approach a distillery in Scotland and ask if they were willing to produce the world's first organic whisky (of the modern era - as pre intensive farming everything was organic). And Springbank distillery said Yes. So we commissioned an organic single malt whisky in 1992. The idea behind this one-off batch was to celebrate the coming of the new millennium, the year 2000, 8 years later. Dà Mhìle, pronounced da-vee-lay, is Gaelic for 2000.
As this batch went so well, in the year 2000 we decided to commission another batch of whisky in Scotland – this time at Loch Lomond distillery. In 2008 we considered commissioning more whisky but ultimately decide to start our own distillery here in west Wales. We invested in a micro-still installed in November 2011 and from that moment we start producing a rage of organic spirits. We now produce an orange liqueur, 4 different gins, an apple brandy and 2 types of whisky with more interesting products to follow.

What is unique about your company?
We are one of the only fully organic distilleries in the UK and everything we produce is organic. We are also the second distillery in Wales and by releasing our first Welsh whisky in September 2016. We have officially made Wales a nation with a whisky industry (by law it takes a minimum of 2 distilleries producing and marketing whisky to give the country “whisky industry” status.)

Who and where are your customers?
We currently supply throughout the UK and are beginning to break in to the EU. You can get our products directly from our website or via Master of Malt, Vintage Roots, Speciality Drinks and a whole range of independent suppliers.

How’s the future looking for you? What are your plans?
We are seeing a great uptake in our spirits and our plans are of rapid growth! We currently do everything in-house; distilling, bottling, labelling and we are looking to expand our capacity on all fronts. In the next 5 years we will be building 2 further warehouses for the storage of our whisky and other barrel aged spirits and a new area for bottling and labelling. Finally we will be installing a 2nd still to increase production of our gins, whiskies, base spirit (for gin production) and other products.

Why do you buy from Organic Herb Trading?
We buy from Organic Herb Trading as we are a fully organic distillery and they supply a wide range of the herbs and spices we require.

Why is organic / provenance important to you?
We have always been organic farmers and it is in our blood to produce organically.
Please feel free to tell us one unusual fact!
We are not only distillers, we are also Wales’ longest established cheesemakers starting all the way back in 1982! One of our Directors, Robert Savage-Onstwedder once won the cheese-rolling race at Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire.

What is your favourite cup of tea / or long cool relaxing drink?
My ideal cup of tea is dark and strong (leave the bag in) with a dash of milk. A great relaxing drink would be Dà Mhìle Botanical Gin poured over blended watermelon and ice.