tom hutchings silent pool

Tom Hutchings: The Sound of Silent Pool

08 February, 2021

Silent Pool distillery manager Tom Hutchings was handed the Rising Star award at the International Spirits Challenge 2020 after impressing an esteemed panel of voters.

It marked the culmination of a fantastic six years for the 31-year-old, who fell into the distilling trade by chance. He found himself at a loose end a­fter graduating with a master’s in product design engineering from the University of Glasgow in 2012. A friend had secured a place on the brewing and distilling programme at HeriotWatt University in Edinburgh, and convinced him to follow suit. 

“When I was describing what kind of job I was looking for – something hands-on, something slightly creative and something with tangible outputs – he said I should go up and study with him,” says Hutchings. “I got on the course in 2013. I initially had more interest in beer than spirits, but the more I studied distilling the more it captivated me. There is something slightly magical about the distillation process.” 

His dissertation project saw him work with Silent Pool distillery to explore how the origin of each botanical affects the flavour profile, and how that can then be used to create the perfect gin. Towards the end of the project, he headed to Surrey to meet one of the directors, and realised there might be a job at the end of it. 

“That was the start of my career at Silent Pool. When I first came down it was an empty barn. They had just finished putting the walls up. It was just a vision and an idea then. They had chosen all the equipment, and I happened to join at the perfect time.

“I finished my degree and came down, and we were then ring up the equipment, testing it out, and we got our licence to distil in October 2014. At that point there was a master distiller I trained under, and between us we did the Silent Pool recipe. We scaled it up, put it in the big still and started producing in March 2015.”

Hutchings has served as the distillery manager ever since. He spends his days slaving over The Major, Silent Pool’s traditional wood-powered boiler, and ensuring a consistent flow of high quality gin leaves the still. He spends his evenings whipping up ambitious creations in the kitchen, and on a rare day’s holiday, you are most likely to find him stranded on a country road in Wales, trying to find motorcycle emergency replacement components using his edgy android phone, with just 4% of battery remaining.

Silent Pool has developed into a highly-rated gin producer since Hutchings arrived, and it is now exported to 32 countries around the world. “It’s been a lot of hard work to get it to where it is, and sometimes you need to step back and look at what we have achieved. My moment of reality was in 2018, when we launched in California. We flew out and gave a presentation to our distributor there, which was an incredibly proud moment in itself, because we are now on the other side of the world, presenting to a sales team that will start pushing the product.

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