“There’s no better tonic for your child and mine, than a drop or two of turpentine” went the radio jingle throughout the 1970’s! G. & R. Drewery’s Quality Turpentine (or the ‘turpentine emporium’ to the locals) has been a fixture on Sodden Road since 1815 and is preparing for the double celebration of an amazing 200 years in business – and also in the same premises!
Drewery’s is the reputable face of turpentine distilling, which has been a feature of Soddenham life since before any official records began, and the practice has not always enjoyed the esteem and reputation as it does today! It is thought that for many years, a number of families were producing turpentine in home made stills throughout the area, but these eventually ceased through a form of natural selection, where only the most skilful (and careful) survived the inevitable poisonings and explosions were left to continue the practice.
In 1808 a heavy tax was levied upon all distilleries, large and small, which forced many individuals to abandon the practice altogether, and only the most efficient and commercially minded survived. Of those survivors, the brothers Godfrey and Reuben Drewery established the first official retail outlet in Norfolk right here in Soddenham!
The company is now run by Alfred Drewery, and is a much more technologically advanced operation than it was in Godwin and Reuben’s day! That said, Alfred and his staff (Leonard, Jean and Malachi) take pride in their level of customer service, and are well known for their courtesy and manners, along with an enviable knowledge of turpentine distilling that enables the company to continue to develop new lines and bring it proudly into the twenty first century.
Every month, there is an evening tasting session, where Alfred will talk you through the culture and ritual of turpentine imbibing, tasting the latest batches in development and introduce some interesting examples from the past. These are very popular events, so booking is absolutely necessary. Just pop in and ask Alfred or one of his team to put you on the list.
Mon – Sat: 10am until 5pm
Except on Wed: 9 until 11.30am (half day closing)
Tasting sessions are usually held on the first Monday of every month 7 -8.30pm