James May is a man of many talents - TV Presenter, automotive obsessive, occasional flautist, Wiltshire Pub Landlord… so of course it would make sense for him to start a gin brand, as all good celebrities do at some point in their careers...

But rather than just sticking his face on a bottle, it turned out that he was quite the dab hand at coming up with some uniquely different flavours. His range of suitably savoury gins - tested on the loyal locals at the pub he co-owns in Wiltshire - has won numerous awards, is now available in 41 countries, constantly sells out and has even been deemed good enough to go in the fish batter at the pub. 

Mostly known for presenting Top Gear and The Grand Tour, James - along with West Countryman Gus Colquhoun and Hugh Anderson of Downtown Distillery, has created a range of original gins using combinations of botanicals that no-one has ever considered before - including parsnip, mustard and beetroot. Each expression is based on ideas from James' love of cooking and experience of global travel at other people's expense.

His first flavour, Asian Parsnip, serves as an ode to the Great British parsnip, with a touch of exotic spices for excitement. His latest, London Drizzle, aims to recreate the uniquely British feeling of rain on damp London summer's day.

All things that the British public - and, as it turns out, a large chunk of American Gin Drinkers - want to experience. A little bit of a backstory - James became co-owner of The Royal Oak Swallocliffe in a particularly beautiful part of Wiltshire in September 2020, and thought it might be a good idea to create a gin for the loyal customers.

James has travelled extensively during his TV career and experienced a vast range of foods and flavour combinations in some very unusual locations. He enjoys experimenting with cooking, so why not with gin? 

So, when it came to creating it, he decided to see if some of these ideas could, quite literally, be distilled. Local man Hugh's nano-distillery is about half an hour from James' pub, and many hours were spent experimenting with flavours until they forgot what the ingredients were.

May says: “Originally, I'd intended to make enough to sell in the pub. But Hugh suggested a run of 1000 litres, which is around 1420 bottles. That's a lot for a village pub, so we also put it up for sale online as a signed and numbered limited edition.

“Amazingly, it sold out within a few days, rather than the few years I'd anticipated. Our experiment has since turned into a gin-fuelled monster.

“Like most things involving gin, it's all got a bit out of hand.”