This year marks an extraordinary anniversary in Soddenham. The turpentine distillery that was first set up by brothers Godfrey and Reuben Drewery in their back parlour way back in 1815 reaches its bicentennial and there will be a number of ways in this will be celebrated.
Firstly, there is a new bicentennial blend that will only be on sale until the end of the year. For those who have frequented Alfreds popular tasting evenings, this will be no surprise, as he has been sneaking in small samples of this batch during the blind tastings over the last year to gauge opinion! This, he insists, is the pinnacle of 200 years of continuous development and perfection and hopes that this particular batch will be the benchmark for all others to strive. We are sure it will.
The Bicentennial Turpentine will be sold in a simple but attractive high-shouldered bottle of clear glass in 500ml and 175ml sizes from their Sodden Road premises and all quality Turpentine retailers.
It is well known that Drewery’s have maintained an enviable archive of samples and records from every batch distilled since 1815, and during the of the week leading up to the Summer Fete they will be staging an exhibition of interesting and important articles from their extensive collection in the Samphire Room of Murrows Mill. Alfred tells me that there will be a few surprises too and that he hopes that it will be an informative snapshot of their lives, and of the village in general.
For the true aficionado, Alfred has also created a very special Limited Edition Original Blend to mark their anniversary. Only 200 of these tiny 75ml bottles have been made, working to the original blending notes that Godfrey and Reuben wrote in their ledger when they first began to accurately recreate the turpentine that made their name. Alfred tells me that each bottle will come in a handsome, custom-made wooden box (pine of course!) with a small book retelling the history of turpentine distilling in Soddenham, with a selection of reproductions of some of their most famous labels.
Not content with recreating an authentic 200 year old blend, Alfred has added one more special touch. He has searched the Drewery vaults for the samples of the very first batch (Drewery’s archives a pint of each batch which is sealed and carefully stored) and added a drop or two of the original batch into the blend – this is about as authentic as you will get.
Now I know that many of you will want to snap of of these up quickly, but Alfred tells me that not all 200 will be available for sale to the public. There will be a small number given as gifts at Alfred’s discretion, and Turpentine Aficionados (an exclusive, mail-order club) will be given first choice. He expects that there will be around 80 bottles available for general purchase, but only one bottle per customer to ensure they get distributed fairly. One very special bottle is being packaged with what Alfred will only describe as ‘extras’ which is intended to be auctioned during the Summer Fete, with the proceeds going to the Bunsens Almshouses.
Our heartiest congratulations to the Drewery’s and their staff, past and present, on this historic celebration!