English whisky producer in good spirits

England’s first registered whisky distillery is opening its doors.

The English Whisky Company’s £2 million distillery at Roudham in Norfolk will open a visitor centre in August. It has already produced 250 casks of English spirit which will become the country’s first single malt whisky when it goes on sale in 2009.

Andrew Nelstrop, managing director of St George’s Distillery, said: “The spirit we’re producing is far better than anyone anticipated. After maturing for three years in oak casks a limited amount will be going into bottles. Our objective is to produce excellent quality whisky that can compete with some of the finest whiskies currently on the market.”

Master distiller Iain Henderson, who has created malts for Laphroaig and Chivas and previously worked as manager of Glenlivet and Ardbeg, has been overseeing distillation since December 2006. The as yet unnamed spirit - it cannot be called whisky until it matures for three years and will not be allowed to use the term Scotch - has been made using East Anglian malt barley and yeast.

Henderson is set to retire at the end of August, and will be replaced by David Fitt, who is currently working as a brewer for Greene King. “Iain is busy training up his successor, who is taking the next step on from brewing beer,” Nelstrop said.

In April the distillery, which sits on the banks of the river Thet just off the A11 between East Harling and Roudham, was visited by Prince Charles.