Dà Mhìle (pronounced da-vee-lay) is Gaelic for two thousand. Way back in 1992 John Savage-Onstwedder, one of the founders of the renowned Teifi Farmhouse Cheese and himself an organic farmer commissioned the world famous Springbank Distillery in Campbeltown, Scotland near the Mull of Kintyre to produce the world’s first organic whisky of the modern era to commemorate the eagerly anticipated new millennium –the year 2000.
Springbank managed to squeeze 15 hogsheads (barrels) out of the 11 tonnes of organic barley John had delivered to the distillery and of these 15 hogsheads 5 still remain and will celebrate their 21st birthday in the summer of 2013. This original 1992 Da Mhile is now highly sought after by collectors.
In 2010 John applied to HMRC for a ‘distiller’s licence’ to run a 350 litre state-of-the-art copper potstill even though HMRC’s guidelines at the time stated that the smallest potstill for which a licence could be granted would be 15 hectolitres (1500 litres!).
Nonetheless, he was encouraged to apply by a sympathetic HMRC officer who said: “Those guidelines were written down when custom’s officers were still roaming the hills with muskets to flush out the illegal stills so as to make it more difficult to hide them! Put in your application and see what happens”. Lo and behold a few months later HMRC issued John with a ‘distiller’s licence’ , probably the first distiller’s licence issued for a 350 litre still in the UK. This was in 2009.
It took another three years to jump through all the other obstacles to acquire all the licences needed to actually start distilling such as warehousekeeper’s licence, movement guarantee ……etc.
It would not have been possible to establish this first genuine, farmhouse distillery without Welsh Government and European Union support.
John’s eldest son, John-James, who trained with Kilchoman distillery in Scotland and with Dr. Klaus Hagmann who has a PhD in distilling in Germany and designed the still is now at 29 the youngest distillery manager in Britain. His first product ‘Dà Mhìle Orange 33’, an organic, orange liqueur won a True Taste Award for its first batch! His second product Dà Mhìle, botanical, farmhouse gin has been enthusiastically received by gin drinkers.
Dà Mhìle started distilling in the autumn of 2012 at Glynhynod Farm in Ceredigion. Their mission statement is not to produce mediocrity but only top quality at an honest price.
Distillery tours and tastings by prior arrangement.