Monday 5 September 2016

Rives Pitman: Gin from Sherry Country

This family owned distillery was established in 1880 by August Haupold, a very active businessman and German consul in Málaga as well as a wine and brandy producer. It is now run by the fourth generation and is based at the El Palmar industrial estate in El Puerto de Santa María. The firm moved here in 1978 after outgrowing the old installations. As time went by more products were produced and the wine and brandy were dropped. They are now producing a range of gins, vodkas (including the famous Caramel vodka VVH Vodk) and alcoholic and non-alcoholic liqueurs and syrups. In total they list 70 different products including Conde de Cuba rum.

The distillery in El Puerto with the column still tower
Equipment-wise they have a 30 metre high column still which produces very pure spirit from a base of locally grown beetroot. The spirit intended for gin passes to a pair of original copper gin stills, brought from the old distillery, with capacities of 5,000 and 8,000 litres.

The gin stills, botanical containers and condensers
Production of gin is currently running at 1.8 million litres annually. It contains 11 botanicals of which one is top secret. Concha de Antonio is responsible for sourcing botanicals and quality control for the gin and only she and the capataz, Francisco Cerecera know the formula. They recently launched a strawberry gin which is selling very well. The bottling line has a capacity of 18,000 per hour. Rives is now the brand leader in Spain, not only for gin where the market is growing at 6% per annum, but also for nearly everything they make. They also have a healthy export trade to 22 countries.

Some of the company's products
Various other companies in the Marco de Jerez offer a gin such as Botanic by Williams & Humbert, The London No 1 Gin by González Byass, but Rives is the only one distilled there.

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