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For some, there is a continual calling to return home, to immerse ourselves in familiar surroundings and be with the people we love most. When this calling becomes too much, bold decisions are made, and opportunities present themselves that are life changing. As we take a journey to the west of England, we find the market town of Oswestry in Shropshire, where this calling brought Chris back to the place called home, to form beautiful partnerships, and create a new distillery that is focused on producing the best quality products for those who like sophisticated, classic spirits with a small batch twist. Welcome to Henstone Distillery…




The Story


Chris spent many years working in Europe, but always had a desire to return home. One day, this desire was so strong that he decided to quit his job and move back to his beloved Shropshire. With no job and no exact plan of what to do next, he ended up working with Shane and Alison, who ran an established Brewery. Distilling had always been an idea Chris had played with, and as his understanding of the brewing process grew, this idea started to gain some traction and he convinced the others it was a good idea to start a whisky distillery. A 2-year planning period ensued, where solid strategies were formed, and this good idea became a reality. Chris and his wife Alex, along with Shane and Alison used the same site as the brewery to establish the distillery back in 2017. A grant was obtained that allowed them to drive the project forward, purchasing Hilda later on in 2017, which is a German manufactured 1000 litre pot/column hybrid still. Hilda was fired up and the first whisky production began in November 2017 and they layed their first new make spirit into wood in January 2018. Their first single malt whisky was released in early 2021 and they now have 4 expressions that are stocked to show off their spirit and its interaction within different types of casks and plans are in place for their first aged statement release later this year, along with a few special releases in the pipeline.

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The Name


Shane and Alison and Chris and Alex used their family homes to come up with the name of their distillery. Chris and Alex live in an ex-Public House called The Hen and Chickens, whilst Shane and Alison live in Stone House. Their moto was a shower creation (thought up whilst in the shower) building on the Hen in the name (that is also part of their logo) and the fact that they will always focus on quality and taking only the very best hearts (cuts) of the spirit to use as whisky.


The Process


To ensure quality throughout, every part of the distilling process needs to be evaluated, starting with using the finest quality 100% malted barley for their single malt. Being based on the same site as a brewery, allows them to make their own wash, which only a small number of distilleries outside of Scotland can actually do. This is received on a Friday and then fermentation begins on a Monday, running for an unbelievable 10 to 11 days (that’s over 260 hours!), which is some serious secondary fermentation that helps to produce a fresh and fruit filled spirit. This is then pumped into Hilda, who distils the spirit, before the team step in with their ‘sense-based’ cut system, relying on their own senses to decide at what point to start the process. As previously mentioned, they will only take the very best cut of spirit to be used for their whiskies, and if in doubt they will cut the foreshots late and the feints early, which reduces the size of the heart they can use but ensures continued quality. Finally, this process results in a new make spirit with an ABV around 85-90%, which is then taken down to 65.4% ABV for whisky and 60% ABV for Old Dog, before being put into oak.




A 1000 litre Hybrid Pot/Column Still, which combines the best of two worlds to produce an unbeatable result, allowing the team to carefully craft their whisky with both the intensity of pot-distilled spirits and the precision of a column still. A hybrid still unlocks unique flavours and aromas that can result in distinct, flavourful whisky experiences that only this technology can provide. Hilda has a 1000 litre pot still, a 4-plate reflux column still, along with a condensing column, which all combine to produce a super clean spirit, with one run through Hilda being comparable to 4 distillations in a normal pot still set up. This means the whisky flavour profile is no longer limited, creating endless possibilities for innovation, which is something that Henstone are keen to explore with future releases.




They have formed a partnership with a cooperage in Speyside and now have access to some wonderful casks, although in the beginning, Chris thought they could only use ex-Bourbon barrels for maturation of the whisky, so the earlier releases were limited to these types of casks. They were very pleased with the resulting whiskies they produced, but discovering the wide array of casks they can actually use to mature their spirits has led to the them trying several different maturations and finishes, with other top secret projects also coming together later this year…


The Whisky


Henstone only do small batch releases and the hand-written labels on each bottle provide information about the specific cask, bottle and fill date that can then be used to gain further insight into the spirit; the process used, the cask maturation and the flavour profile, by visiting their website.


Ex-bourbon Cask Matured


The original, award-winning single cask release from Henstone, using ex-Bourbon casks to mature the spirit for an average of 3 years 6 months. All non-coloured and non-chill filtered. Although a young distillery, the whisky is impressively soft and sweet, with complexity and notes of dried fruit, nut and spice.


Ex-Oloroso Finish 


The first batch spent the whole time maturing in ex-oloroso, whereas later releases are being finished in quarter casks. A sherry fan favourite with flavours of apricots, vanilla, ginger snaps and stewed plums.


Ex-Pedro Ximenex Finish


The first release was also fully matured in this cask, whereas later releases are being finished in quarter casks. This one has an amazing deep, dark colour and is filled with the rich and sweet flavours of Christmas; sticky dried fruit, nuts, gingerbread and marmalade.


Ex-Peated Finish 


As with many of the new world distilleries we have already visited, Henstone don’t use peated barley, instead opting for ex-Islay peated casks to produce a cracking whisky with a perfect balance of peaty smoke, orange, peach, and brown sugar. 


Old Dog Corn Liquor 


A mashbill of 68% corn, 16% wheat and 16% barley that is distilled in Hilda. This is then usually matured in new American oak casks for around 1-2 years, producing a liquor that is a great alternative for the bourbon drinker. It smells young, but it tastes really good with notes of orange, caramel, spice, tropical fruit and oak.


The Journey


Our members will be enjoying Batch 14 Single Malt Whisky, which used Heaven Hill ex-bourbon casks to mature the spirit for 3-years and 8-months. A smaller batch size than normal, due to a cask filling error, with only 213 full sized bottles produced. Orange, nutty chocolate and spice are all very present in this one.  


They will also be enjoying an extra aged version of the Old Dog Corn Liquor that has been matured for 25-months, providing extra orange fruit flavours and making an awesome alternative to bourbon that is great over ice or in an old fashioned.




Join us now on The Journey for your chance to enjoy 100ml of these wonderful spirits from just £18.95 per month, or head to The Shop if you would prefer to buy a single 100ml or full-size bottle.

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