Born in Guernsey, Luke Wheadon has turned his passion for local flavours into his life’s work. Formerly a chef, Luke is the brains behind the popular Guernsey-made Wheadon’s Gin. Incorporating Luke’s other passion for foraged ingredients, Wheadon’s Gin is a delicious and distinctive artisan spirit. Here, Luke talks life in Guernsey, the cocktail he can’t resist and his favourite gourmet Guernsey producers.
Can you tell us what inspired Wheadon’s Gin?
“Before starting Wheadon’s Gin, I had worked as a chef, so I have always been infatuated with flavour. I bought a tiny copper still as I wanted to create a really local, expressive gin. I do a lot of foraging, so I wanted to include foraged ingredients. I experimented with gin with berries, elderflower and even seaweed. Eventually I found a plant called rock samphire, which grows just above water line, and when I tasted it, I knew its citrus minerality would help create the gin I wanted to make. Paired with other botanicals such as pink grapefruit, I believe the minerality of the rock samphire lends the gin its moreish element—it makes you want to go back for another sip!”
What are your preferred garnishes for the perfect gin and tonic?
“I’d probably choose a little bit of fresh rock samphire and grapefruit peel to bring out the flavours in Wheadon’s Gin. My gins are packed with flavour, so for me a garnish shouldn’t dominate or overpower the flavours already present in the gin. The gin must be allowed to sing.”
What’s your current favourite gin-based cocktail?
“I’m a huge gin martini fan and I’m a real purist in that respect. In Guernsey, the Crown Club at The Old Government House Hotel & Spa does a great martini, as does The Hook in St Peter Port.”
Describe your perfect day in Guernsey?
“I’d begin the day by strolling down the hill to Moulin Huet Bay to forage for wild ingredients, so I could spend some time experimenting with flavours. I’d then get out on the water for a bit of fishing and try to squeeze in a round of golf too. I love to cook, so in the evening I’d have friends over for a big dinner.”
What local food and drink producers do you admire?
“Lots and lots! We have such amazing artisan producers in Guernsey—there are really too many too mention. As a small example, I’d say people like Fenella, who is making amazing cheeses at Fort Grey, as well as a local lady on the island who grows all the citrus fruits for my gin—she really is a hero! I also admire Rocquette Cider, who are currently producing their own apple brandy. Guernsey is such a creative and entrepreneurial place.”
Sample exceptional local produce—and a Wheadon’s Gin martini—on your next trip to The Duke of Richmond Hotel.