Discover Milton Keynes’ newest distillery: Three Counties Spirits Co.

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If you’re part of my Eat & Explore MK community group, chances are you’ve already heard of Luke and Three Counties Spirits Co. in Fenny Stratford, crafting Landlocked Rum (aptly named due to Milton Keynes’ inland location). The founder and owner, Luke shared his venture a few weeks back, and the response from rum lovers across MK was overwhelming. Intrigued by the buzz, I was eager to sample it myself and catch up with Luke to delve deeper into his business and aspirations.

Luke is bringing Milton Keynes its very own distillery, handcrafting everything onsite from scratch, a feat not to be overlooked in the local food and drink scene. I caught up with Luke to find out more about the business and what to expect.

Plus, he’s given my readers a special discount code so you can treat yourself to some proper spirits so keep reading to discover Three Counties Spirits Co.

Luke in the distillery. Photo c/o Three Counties Spirits Co.

The journey so far

Luke’s account of his journey was compelling enough to share in his own words. Here’s what he had to say:

“My name is Luke Garnsworthy, I’m a former chef and restaurateur originally from Exeter in Devon. Three Counties Spirits Co was started by myself and my wife Fiona (she has the normal corporate job to allow me to play entrepreneur) in late summer of 2023. I’ve always had an interest in distilling but with the restaurants taking up all my time I never really gave it much time. My plan for Three Counties Spirits is to be a hub of several different spirit brands. We have started with Landlocked English Rum as there is a real surge in rum at the moment and also it’s relatively straightforward to make. 

I don’t like following the crowd and doing the ‘done’ thing so all our spirits will be created my way with no real regard for how it’s always done. I want to create exciting drinks that are focused on delivering the best quality and equally as important, the best flavour I can. Landlocked Rum is a molasses-based rum made from scratch by me in Fenny Stratford.

A lot of “English” rums are imported from the Caribbean and bottled here. I start by fermenting sugarcane molasses for two weeks before double distilling in our modern, stainless steel, square still. I then take the base white distillate and use this to create our whole range of rums.”

Luke in the distillery. Photo c/o Three Counties Spirits Co.

Luke’s journey hasn’t been without its twists and turns:

“Following the collapse of my restaurant business (you may have heard of Crockers in Tring) in November 2022, I took some time out before embarking on this exciting adventure. I had never distilled before but spent many hours watching YouTube and reading to the point that when we got the license and I turned the still on for the first time I just did it. To me it’s just like cooking, there’s a recipe and a process and then you get an end product. We found our distillery home in Fenny Stratford in July 2023. I live in Leighton Buzzard so I wanted something fairly local. Also, the fact that Milton Keynes is such a hive of industry it just made sense to look here. 

We started full production of our rum in October 2023 following many months of paperwork to get the licenses we need and waiting for the still to arrive from Holland. I am now working hard to spread the word and let as many people as possible know about the delicious rums and pre-mixed cocktails.” 

“I had never distilled before but spent many hours watching YouTube and reading to the point that when we got the license and I turned the still on for the first time I just did it. To me it’s just like cooking, there’s a recipe and a process and then you get an end product.”

Luke Garnsworthy, Three Counties Spirits Co.

What to expect

Aside from being Milton Keynes’ only from-scratch distillery, you can expect meticulously crafted, small-batch delights bursting with flavour.

Landlocked English Rum range boasts six variants, including classic white rum, navy white rum at 57%, spiced rum, and a unique pineapple rum infused with caramelised pineapples—an homage to Luke’s culinary days at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. They are currently experimenting with ageing rum on staves from a bourbon barrel generously provided by the folks at Campfire Gin.

The latest offering, Veloura Cold Brew Liqueur, combines their white rum with house-made cold brew coffee, brown sugar syrup, and spiced vanilla pods. The coffee, sourced from Aaron at the Espresso Lounge in Tring, lends a rich depth to the liqueur.

If straight spirits aren’t your thing, you can buy a selection of premixed rum-based cocktails, from cold brew martinis to pina coladas, perfect for drinking at home with minimal effort.

Veloura Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur. Photo c/o Three Counties Spirits Co.

“Veloura Cold Brew Liqueur, combines their white rum with house-made cold brew coffee, brown sugar syrup, and spiced vanilla pods. The coffee, sourced from Aaron at the Espresso Lounge in Tring, lends a rich depth to the liqueur.”

www.sophieetc.com

Looking ahead

Luke clearly enjoys the experimentation side of the business – If he can find something that has enough sugar in it, he can ferment and distil it which provides endless opportunities. He is currently working on a Pineapple Distillate, not a rum. This method blends whole pineapples before fermenting the flesh and juice. He then strains the liquid and double-distill it into a pineapple distillate. This means he can utilise the pineapple flesh used to create the pineapple rum and create a unique spirit that no one is doing in the UK.

He also talks about more cocktails, such as pineapple daiquiri, orange daiquiri, pineapple old fashioned, dark spiced old fashioned and a pineapple martini. He said he might even play with a gin once he has a vodka but it probably won’t be for sale, Just a personal project to see if I can get near Aviation Gin and the Campfire Navy Gin. 

Discover the range online with free delivery to MK1 – MK10 postcodes. And as a special treat from us, enjoy 10% off with the code SOPHIEETC10. 

And good news for whiskey fans: “I am also planning to create an English Bourbon-style whiskey but that might take longer than 12 months – Watch this space!”

Like many small businesses in the area, Luke is inspired by others who are doing it well. “I’m inspired by places like The Wine Cellar, MK Biergarten and House of Dough. People like me who have an idea and pursue it, are what makes the world tick and sticking it to the big guys is always fun! I don’t know a lot about MK but I am learning and exploring fast and I have to say I’m so glad I’m here.”

If you are a restaurant or bar and want to stock some unique spirits, you can get in touch with Luke here.

DISCLAIMER: This post is part of a paid content campaign. Click here for my full disclosure policy.

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