The Adnams Family

I had a great time looking around the Adnams brewery in Southwold. 

Yes, it’s in Suffolk and I’m all about Norfolk, but between you and me I’m actually from Suffolk, my daughter was conceived in Suffolk (don’t tell her), I was married in Suffolk (yes in that order!) and if it’s all about food – then it has to be about local food, East Anglian food.

Southwold’s an incredible place, the long golden beach with a tad of shingle, the restaurants and cafes, the shopping, the quirky pier and of course all the Adnams touches like the elegant refurbished Swan hotel. 

George and Ernest Adnams bought the brewery in the late 1800’s, joined in the early 1900’s by brothers Jack and Pierse Loftus. The original brewery dates back decades before. The Adnams Family are still key in the business. So it’s still family owned, it’s still independent, it’s still in Southwold and it’s still growing, it’s still employing 100’s of local people and unlike Greene King it’s not going to be bought by the Japanese any time soon. 

Adnams own a whole host of branches to their ever-growing brewing tree like 9 pubs that they own & run and 43 estate pubs that they own and are run independently, a few hotels, holiday homes, a Fish and Chip shop and a good handful of stores all over Norfolk and Suffolk. 

Their distribution centre is in the next-door village of Reydon where they also grow some of the crops used in their beers. Plus, in 2010 Copper House distillery was formed to make in-house Gin, Vodka and Whiskey straight from the grain.

They produce millions of pints a year – including their major brands Broadside premier bitter, Explorer golden bitter, Ghost ship pale ale and Sole Star amber ale to name a few.

But I’m not about the beer this time and I’m not about the 200 plus Adnams labelled wines they stock, hand-picked by one of their wine masters – yes, they have them too.

Today I’m about the BOOZE, the proper liquor, the hard stuff, the mothers ruin – the oak barrelled whiskey – – the stuff you can make into cocktails. 

Because I tasted nearly all of them and was very very impressed – – 


Adnams produce 3 varieties – 

  • East Coast Vodka– Made with East Anglian malted barley. Light and refreshing. I’d say this is more neutral, traditional vodka flavour making it perfect to blend with strong flavour in Mixology – like a Vodka Coffee Martini, creamy ones or long fruity ones over ice.
  • Longshore Vodka– Triple Malt. Voted World’s best Vodka. Well flavoured with sweet notes. I’d use this for citrus cocktails like mojitos or martini type short cocktails where you can taste the quality.
  • Rye Hill Vodka– Made with a Malt, making it slightly smoky with a light whiskey tone. This is the one to have over ice – or served as a cocktail mixed with rich winter ginger or apple flavours.

Alcohol making is an absolute cheat, not to put it down but it’s a lot simpler than everyone thinks. Gin is an even bigger cheat – – as long as you’ve got all the gear and the chemistry know how handed down over thousands of years – – your away – – 

Get some grain, soak it, add sugar, ferment it, brew it, bubble it, drain off the bad stuff and bottle the rest.

Well maybe it’s a tad more technical than that, ok it is, that’s probably why we leave the professionals to it, that and the KIT. 

Let’s call it more of a secret – 

Like the secret of Gin, it’s just vodka with botanicals added and brewed again – as long as it has juniper berries its classified as Gin. 

That’s why Gin is so exciting and popular – botanical flavours are endless.


Adnams make 3 base gins, 2 fruity ones and offer guest varieties.

  • Copper House Dry Gin–  A dry sharp gin with hibiscus and citrus notes. A classic flavour best served with lemon and tonic, or go for an elderflower tonic.
  • First Rate Triple Malt– Smooth and fresh flavours made with the essence of triple malts. How about a cucumber tonic or go wild with fresh cucumber, mint, lime and extra fizzy tonic? 
  • Rising Sun Gin– Made with Japanese matcha and lemongrass, with sweet smooth oriental citrus flavours. Try it with fresh lime juice and tonic. Maybe add some Vietnamese basil.
  • Sloe Gin– Fruity flavours of sloe in this winter classic – great with cranberry juice but don’t tell anyone!
  • Pink Gin– House dry Gin distilled with raspberry’s. It’s not illegal to serve gin with lemonade – but it is frowned upon. I don’t care!!! Tonics bitter and fruit should be nothing but sweet. I want my pink Gin with lemonade – – Now!
  • Summer Guest Gin – Lemon & Tamarind– a rich deepness to fragrant gin with a tad of lemon. Perfect with Mediterranean tonic. 
  • This seasons Guest Gin – – – Lime & Habenero– inspired by a trip to Mexico, sharp botanical gin, then lime flavours followed by a gentle chilli heat. It would make a good swap in any tequila cocktail like a mojito with extra mint & pounded lime zest.

So, here’s another secret – take vodka, shove it in a barrel which has been charred internally and leave it for 3 years = Whiskey!!!


  • Rye Whiskey– A deep aromatic, Rye based almost fruity dark rich Whiskey matured in light European oak barrels with a high char.
  • Single Malt Whiskey– Local malt is used to make this smooth, French Oak charred barrel.
  • Triple Malt whiskey– Wheat Barley and Oats make up this 5-year barrelled whiskey, left in American Oak with a rich char.

Apparently, the oak used and the amount of burning char on the inside of the barrel make a huge difference to the flavour, colour and quality to the whiskey – – Barrels can only be used a few times too.

Thanks to Sally for the know how – – please Adnams put her on a master liquor course!!!

Other Booze 

Broadside– It’s kind of like Whiskey but made from beer, beer left in a French Oak barrel with a high char and left to infuse for 12 months. 

Lemoncello – yet to sample (I’m thinking this married with Rising Sun Gin & Green Tea with some basil – shaken to hell then poured over crushed ice)

Kings Ginger– yet to taste (come on let’s get Kings Ginger together with Rye Hill Vodka)

Thanks Proudly Norfolk for the invite to all its members. Promoting and helping all things food in Norfolk and the Suffolk boarders.

Adnams are a kind sponsor, giving back to the local community by way of their impressive Adnams Community Trust set up in 1990.

Adnams Community Trust 

So that’s it folks – – I try all these things for your drinking pleasure.

Sometimes I nearly don’t enjoy myself – but it’s all for the love of local food and drink.

By Zena Leech-Calton ©

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