Pocketful of Stones Distillery

Now I do love a good story and there’s a good one behind the Hell’s Stone whisky produced at the Pocketful of Stones distillery in Penzance, Cornwall. According to legend, the Devil decided that he wanted Cornwall as a holiday retreat, well, the weather is a lot nicer there than it is in the 7th layer of Hell, so I guess it’s completely understandable!

So, one day, the archangel St Michael caught sight of a fire-breathing dragon flying towards Cornwall, which had been possessed by the devil. St Michael engaged in heated ariel battle and struck the dragon with his flaming sword and caused the dragon to drop the red-hot boulder it was carrying and where it fell became known as Hell’s Stone or Helston. Now, you are probably wondering what this tale has to do with the whisky, well, it’s matured in warehouse in the shadow of St Michaels Mount. Yes, a tenuous link admittedly, but I guess that living in that part of the world you are surrounded by these ancient tales, and they have formed part of the fabric of the distillery.

This is not the only piece of local folklore they have drawn upon. Their Morveren Absinthe is inspired by the tale of the mermaid of Zennor, who according to legend lives in the bay where the wormwood grows. However, if there is a local that goes by the name Dr Squid, they are not letting on! Maybe it’s founder and distiller Shaun Bebbington’s alter ego.

It is not unusual for relatively new distilleries to connect to their local environment by sourcing as much of their raw material from around the distillery as possible, whether that is foraged botanicals or locally grown barley. Pocketful of Stones is no different, but there is a twist. Instead of using local barley, to cerate their wort, they use beer. In essence wort is just a rough beer without hops, so as Shaun was a big fan of beer and local beer at that, they use craft beer from either the Black Flag or Keltek breweries as their wort, which is then distilled in their hand made 480 litre copper pot still called Jackson.

The resulting whisky is then aged for three years in their warehouse before being shipped up to the Loch Lomond distillery where it is vatted with 8 year old Loch Lomond whisky and then bottled. Now, some may argue that this does not make the resulting whisky Cornish and they have a point, but I think this is a rather unique way of getting around the fact that their own whisky may or may not be ready for drinking at 3 years of age, yes, I know that they could leave it longer in cask until it is ready, but again, there are financial implications to that. Anyway, as I say, it’s the juice in the bottle that counts and in this case the juice is lovely, estery and fruity.

Now, in saying all of that, in May 2022, they did indeed release a single cask of their own, unblended whisky, which had been matured in an ex-Rioja cask and the balance between spirit and cask was absolutely spot on, so keep an eye on this distillery as I’m sure more interesting releases will follow in time.
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