The English Distillery
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The Story of The English Distillery

The Story of The English Distillery

The English Distillery is England's oldest registered whisky distillery. Founded by the Nelstrop family in Norfolk in 2006, the distillery is independent and creates multi-award-winning whisky from honest, local ingredients.

The History of England's oldest registered whisky distillery

Our founder James Nelstrop was the son of a Lincolnshire farmer who started farming in Lincolnshire before emigrating to Australia. He returned to England in 1976 and continued to farm in Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire before establishing The English Distillery in 2006.

The English Distillery Blog | James Nelstrop founder of the distillery

The distillery has a unique place in history. In 1901 the last recorded whisky distillery in England swapped from whisky to gin production before being destroyed by fire. This saw the end of whisky making in England until The English Distillery was granted a license to distil whisky by HMRC. In 2006 it was officially opened by King Charles III and became the first registered, operational whisky distillery in England for over 100 years.

The distillery in the early stages of construction

We're proud to make whisky the old-fashioned way, using slow processes, traditional equipment and honest, local ingredients. James Nelstrop's original goal for the distillery was to create England's finest single-malt whisky. This has been our sole ambition for nearly 16 years and continues to drive us today.

Our Local Ingredients

Our Norfolk location is critical to the exceptional quality of our whisky. Pure Breckland water is drawn from the Breckland Aquifer, a permeable rock that stores groundwater. This chalk aquifer is directly beneath the distillery and provides hard water that gives our whiskies a unique sweetness.

The English Distillery Blog | Whisky stills on the distilling floor

Norfolk is the UK's premier barley-growing region. Every year we use a mixture of barley grown locally and on the Nelstrop family farms in Lincolnshire. The malting process takes place at renowned local maltsters, Crisps of Fakenham.

Malted barley at Crisp Maltings in Fakenham, Norfolk

The Distillation Process

We're passionate about refining our processes and optimising sustainability wherever we can. The cooling water used in the distilling process is kept in a closed seal loop and returned to the ground after use, making distillation over 90% more efficient than traditional methods and using 94% less groundwater. Our spent grains (draff) are used to feed local dairy herds & any liquids from the distillery are used as liquid fertiliser on the neighbouring farms. Our 10-acre site is also used to grow cricket bat willows which act as a carbon capture and help to slow rain run-off from the site. This reduces the risk of flooding and provides additional habitat for wildlife.

Our Whiskies

Our distillery produces a small and carefully considered collection of single-malt bottles under 'The English' label, from our signature Original and Smokey whiskies to our extremely limited Founders' Private Cellar releases. Every year we launch a number of very special Single Cask, Small Batch and Age Statement whiskies, some matured in different casks and others for a certain amount of time. Our 'Norfolk' label is home to our bestselling liqueurs, creams and grain whiskies, and ranges from our incredibly indulgent Norfolk Nog to our exceptional Farmer's grain whisky.

The English Distillery Blog | The Original Whisky on the Norfolk coast

The Distillery

Our Norfolk distillery shop is open to the public every day of the week, and we run regular tour experiences that give our visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the whisky-making process, from barley to bottle. Our tours also give visitors a chance to taste a range of our whiskies, and in the case of our unique 'Create your own Whisky Experience', an opportunity to blend a bespoke whisky to take home.

The English Distillery Blog | The Distillery Shop in Norfolk


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