A Battersea distillery is releasing three new drinks this summer in time for post-lockdown celebrations across the capital, including a ‘London Aperitivo’ called Doppelgänger.
Doghouse Distillery owners Katherine Saunders, 39, and Braden Saunders, 45, have barely paused for a G&T since lockdown began last March.
This month they are launching Doppelgänger Aperitivo, an Italian-style drink they describe as England’s answer to Aperol and later in the year they also plan to launch a chilli vodka and a whisky.
Braden, Doghouse Distillery’s head hydrator, said: “Before Covid, we had a bunch of new product development ideas that had sort of stalled because we were so busy doing our day jobs.
“When Covid kicked in it gave us an opportunity to reflect on everything.
“One of the things we realised was that if we were going to rise out of this like a phoenix from the ashes, we needed to have something to tell people.
“We thought the best thing to show people in a pandemic is that we are still progressing and we are still moving forward. Yes, we’re in this awful situation, but there are positives that have come out of it.”
Doghouse Distillery is London’s only ‘grain to bottle’ distillery, meaning it makes its gin and vodka entirely from scratch in Battersea.
The new products join the original Doghouse spirits, Baller Vodka and Renegade Gin, which have been hugely successful since their launch in 2017.
Doppelgänger Aperitivo is a herbal liqueur infused with 19 botanicals including citrus fruits, roots and herbs.
Braden described it as half way between Aperol and Campari, and it can be mixed with soda or put in a spritz cocktail.
What makes Doppelgänger Aperitivo unique is that it is infused with hibiscus, an addition inspired by Braden’s grandmother.
Braden, who is Australian, said: “In Australia we call the hibiscus flower Rosella, and it’s actually a little fruit that is left behind after the flower has died.
“It’s a lovely thing to eat, it tastes a bit like really tart rhubarb.
“My grandmother used to make jam out of it, which is how I knew about it.”
In September, Doghouse will become the first south London distillery to release its own whisky.
Unlike most whisky, which is aged in a barrel for many years before release, the Battersea distillery is releasing a little every six months so customers can taste it at every step along the aging journey.
This is known as a ‘new make’ spirit under whisky regulations.
Braden said, “We are going to make what we hope to be a London style of whisky, in that we’re not going to try and emulate scotch.
“We will sell the whisky at various times during its maturation in order to allow consumers to experience what we get to in the distillery – why should we have all the fun?”
At the start of the pandemic, Braden and Katherine also turned their hands to making antibacterial gel, having been shocked at the poor quality and high prices of some of the bottles on sale.
Braden said: “Little did we know they’re actually quite hard to make!
“It took about three weeks but in the end we got one that’s quite good, and it’s a gel. A lot of people were just selling it as a liquid which is completely impractical.”
They still produce it in small amounts (available here) but were glad to shift their focus back to making spirits.
Doghouse Distillery is Braden and Katherine’s second business venture together.
In 2011 they opened Brisbane’s first craft beer pub, Bitter Suite, which spearheaded the city’s craft beer movement in the days where craft beer was still fairly obscure.
Despite the success of Bitter Suite the couple missed London and, inspired by Australia’s craft brewers, decided to return and create something of their own.
Braden said: “The thing that I got off all the brewers I dealt with before we started Doghouse was that there’s something more to this than making money. It’s about having a passion.
“No one loves every day at work, right? But the underlying reason for what you do has to be passion. I think that was the key thing that we saw and we liked, and we thought: we want that feeling.”
In non-Covid times visitors can experience the Doghouse passion at distillery tours and events including monthly Distillery Nights called ‘A Night in the Doghouse’.
Doppelgänger Aperitivo is available to pre-order on the Doghouse Distillery website, and South West Londoner readers can get 20% off when using the code SWL-20 at checkout.