Discover South Devon ~ Summer 2021

Summer 2021 ~ Food & Drink

Written By Discover South Devon

Calancombe Estate & Dartmouth Gin

Calancombe Estate

Vineyard – Winery – Distillery

Situated in the tranquil and picturesque valley of Witchcombe, near Modbury in South Devon, the Calancombe Estate has established 30 acres of vineyards and orchards, dedicated to making the best possible wines, fine sparkling ciders, spirits, and fruit liqueurs.

Founders Lance and Caroline Whitehead began by planting around 6,000 Pinot Noir vines in 2012, and Bacchus, Madeleine Angevine, Pinot Gris, Ortega, and Chardonnay have followed in successive years. Today, all 23,000 vines are productive, along with over 1,000 traditional cider apple trees, to make champagne-method double-fermented fine cider. In addition, blackcurrants are grown to make Cassis, along with rhubarb, damsons, and mirabelles, to make fruit gins and liqueurs.

Calancombe’s aim is to make the finest quality sparkling and still wines, cider, and spirits from fruit grown exclusively on the Estate, in their purpose-built winery. The first wines were launched in 2019 and they have already become award-winning in a highly competitive market, with an enthusiastic following.

Their Range of Fabulous Wines Include...

Pinot Noir Rosé: A delicious pink still wine, it has aromas of summer fruits and citrus and on the palate, balanced acidity with a touch of strawberries, cream with a hint of peach.

Bacchus: The wine has a lovely nose of elderflower and grapefruit with hints of tropical fruit. On the palate, it is clean and crisp with lovely gooseberry and elderflower flavours with a touch of citrus.

White Pinot Noir: The wine has aromas of grapefruit, apricot, and apple on the nose and on the palate is nicely rounded as a result of some ageing in French Oak and has lovely flavours of redcurrant and strawberry.

Sparkling Pinot Noir: This delicious sparkling wine, made in the traditional method, has a deep gold colour with long-lasting fine bubbles. It has a lovely balance from its nose with hints of strawberries and citrus to its delicate long finish with touches of, cream, baked apple, and gentle spices.

Calancombe Estate Vintage Reserve: Principally Madeleine Angevine with small additions of Bacchus and Pinot Gris. A delicious wine that is fresh and lightly aromatic, with floral notes and hints of peaches and apricots.

The Estate will open to visitors from 24th June 2021 for tours of the vineyards and orchards, with spectacular views from the coast to Dartmoor. Visitors will be welcome to tour the vineyards, visit the winery and meet Olly Shaw (Head Winemaker), to learn about Calancombe Estate’s wine-making process, and taste delicious still and sparkling wines. Caroline will host wine masterclasses at the weekends. Later in 2021, Calancombe Estate will host bee experience visits and other rural craft activities, such as apple tree pruning and grafting, hedge laying, and stone wall building.

The licensed visitor centre and café will offer refreshments and light meals, and visitors will be able to buy the full range of produce from the shop.

Dartmouth Distillery Co

Also based on the Calancombe Estate is the Dartmouth Distillery Co, famous for their multi-award-winning Dartmouth English Gin and Dartmouth Navy Strength which are celebrated for their complexity and incredible smoothness. Each has a special charisma, that has won them a passionate following, and they have been recognised with a range of top national and international awards.

Dartmouth gins are made from the finest botanicals sourced from around the World, together with herbs, flowers, and fruit from the Estate. The crystal clear spring water, sourced from the Calancombe Estate aquifer, is an essential element of the gin, and the unique copper pot still, built specially by Müller Brennereianlagen in the Black Forest, produces gins that stand out from the crowd, using a slow distillation process, at low temperature.

Dartmouth Distillery Co’s Gin School will open on 1st July. Hosted by the Head Distiller throughout their visit, guests will have the opportunity to hear about the origins and history of gin and learn a few of the secrets about how Dartmouth English Gin is made, including how to operate the Distillery’s bespoke Müller column still and watch a demonstration showing how to extract the most delicate flavours at low temperature using a vacuum still.

Following an introduction to a wide range of botanicals and flavour groups, guests will formulate their own botanical mix and then run one of the 10 copper alembic stills to produce their own unique gin to take home, with advice and guidance throughout the process. Guests are welcome to bring some of their own botanicals and there will be an opportunity to forage on the Estate for some fresh seasonal ingredients.

Dartmouth English Gin

Dartmouth English Gin astonished the gin world in 2018 by winning “Classic Gin of the year” within weeks of launch. This juniper-led gin is celebrated for its incredible smoothness, complexity, and a certain magic.

“A truly special contemporary classic ranked the top tier of Dry Gins anywhere in the world. There’s bright citrus, soft florals, clear gin heart, and onto a lingering finish. The perfectly layered journey is a treat to the senses. A must-have.”

 Olivier Ward, Editor, Gin Foundry

Dartmouth Navy Strength Gin

Dartmouth Navy Strength Gin is also a favourite, with lime, spice, and juniper. Smoothness and a warming finish maintain the neat sipping nature that characterises Dartmouth’s gins which are perfect for cocktails.

“Following on from Dartmouth Distillery’s original gin, Dartmouth English Gin, their Navy Strength Gin launched with high expectations, and it certainly delivers. On the nose, there is abundant juniper and pine with a depth of spice and hints of liquorice and lime. The aroma lets you know it’s a high ABV gin without being harsh or alcohol-heavy.

The traditional character continues on the palate, beginning with piney juniper and building to a crescendo of warmth and pepperiness, before transitioning to a lingering and warming finish which sees lime and anise notes giving balance. With a touch of water, you see the flavours develop further, but Dartmouth Navy Strength really shines with a dash of tonic water, showing off just how sumptuously rounded, full, and smooth the mouthfeel is.” 

Paul Jackson, The Gin Guide 2020

Feedback from Craft Gin Club

In 2019, the Craft Gin Club sampled gins from over 250 distilleries across the World and chose Dartmouth English Gin as their No. 1 choice of their 12 products for 2020. The gin was introduced to the Club’s 51,720 members in June 2020 and it enjoyed an enthusiastic reception.

In total, over 204,000 people sampled Dartmouth English Gin through the Craft Gin Club offering and, in the Club’s formal feedback process, 84% of members awarded Dartmouth English Gin an 8, 9, or 10 out of 10 in their feedback. This was an unusually high rating from a wide spectrum of drinkers, many of whom have a preference for flavoured gins.

Thousands of Club members have since re-ordered from the Club, and from us directly, and remain enthusiastic advocates of our gin.

Image of Craft Gin Club’s June 2020 Edition

General Tasting Notes from Leading Market Commentators

“Everything about Dartmouth English Gin’s spirits is classically styled; layered with complexity, and what is striking is how smooth they are; almost silky despite their high % ABV.”


“Tasted neat, flavour transitions are impressive and flow like a perfectly timed sequence, and there is a clarity to each botanical that few distillers achieve. It is not just about individual flavours, but also how each botanical relates to the next, which allows for a clear taste journey from start to finish.“


“With tonic, a flurry of fresh herbs greets you, and the bright citrus zing. Resinous juniper and coriander seed take centre stage for their moment in the sun, accentuated by that ever-green pine hit, while the dense green nature of rosemary takes a lead on the aroma, before handing over to a warming nip of cassia and a long tongue-twistingly delicious finish of grains of paradise with that unique, black pepper yet violet-like nip that can only be the work of cubeb.”


“Dartmouth Navy Strength is clearly from the same distillery as Dartmouth English Gin but features lime in place of Grapefruit and ends with a final hint of star anise, to complement the gin’s greater intensity of spirit.”

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