3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Cheshire Life today click here

Lora Hemy - Head Distiller at Liverpool’s Halewood’s Wine and Spirits

PUBLISHED: 00:00 06 April 2017

Head distiller, Lora Hemy

Head distiller, Lora Hemy

Archant

Lora Hemy spends her life making gin. That’s a fairly unusual job, particularly for a woman, but she tells Mairead Mahon, it once was woman’s work.

Copper distilling equipmentCopper distilling equipment

It’s obvious when Lora Hemy has a rare day off: she wears perfume and make up, uses fabric conditioner in her washing machine and even enjoys a guilt free cup of coffee. Nothing out of the ordinary there for most of us but then most of us, unlike Lora, aren’t considered to be one of the finest distillers in the country.

‘Aromas are a massive part of distilling, especially with spirits such as gin and it is really important that I don’t allow other smells to distract me from the botanicals that I need to work with; so yes, I do try to avoid anything with a strong scent, which is an absolute shame as I just adore perfume. Mind you, it is a sacrifice that is worth making in order to be able to create fabulous drinks’ says Lora, who is Head Distiller at Liverpool’s Halewood’s Wine and Spirits.

Later this year, the firm are going to going to open a craft spirit venture in North Wales, an area which used to have a great reputation for distilling and Lora is going to divide her time between there and Liverpool.

‘I can’t wait. North Wales is one of the most beautiful regions in the world and it is botanically fascinating. I love mountains and I’m going to spend a lot of time walking in them, discovering unusual botanicals and then experimenting with them back at the distillery,’ says Lora.

Head distiller, Lora JHemy and distillery operative, Jonathan CarrollHead distiller, Lora JHemy and distillery operative, Jonathan Carroll

It is possible that she might bring her sketchbook with her too, as Lora has the rare distinction of not only having a master’s degree in brewing and distilling; she also has a degree in fine art.

‘It is a bit unusual, I know but when I was at school, I didn’t find chemistry very exciting and so I went to art college. Actually, it was while I was there that I began to discover just how exciting chemistry could be. I made an art installation that tried to create the aromas that you might find after a party and, as well as being interesting, it also allowed me to know that I had what they call, ‘a good nose’. In fact, at one point, I seriously considered becoming a nose in the perfume industry,’ says Lora.

Instead, after graduating in fine art, she bought a chemistry book and taught herself as much as she could before taking her master’s degree and traveling the world.

‘Many people record their travels according to the beaches or waterfalls they see; I recorded mine by the amount of distilleries I visited. I was hooked and, after a period working as a sound engineer, I began my career as a distiller. In previous centuries, distilling used to be a trade associated with women, especially in this area and I’m glad to say that women are once again returning to the business,’ says Lora.

Head distiller, Lora JHemy and distillery operative, Jonathan CarrollHead distiller, Lora JHemy and distillery operative, Jonathan Carroll

Today, Lora has created many drinks such as the highly regarded Liverpool Gin but, although we may all have our own ideas on how to drink it-Lora likes hers neat with ice- how is it created?

‘Well, the distiller is a little bit like an apothecary. In my case, I have a range of botanicals in front of me. They might include things such as liquorice root, angelica root, coriander, citrus and, of course juniper. Every ingredient has its own properties and it’s up to me to create a unique aroma portrait, which I then convey to the rest of the team. We have our own language you know: ‘feinty’ means that it really isn’t working,’ smiles Lora.

Of course, Lora also has the use of a gorgeous 600 litre copper still.‘It really is fabulous and, in fact, it almost acts as another ingredient making an enormous difference to the to the quality of the distilled spirit,’ explains Lora.

Gin has never been more popular and today, there are a huge amount of flavours available, which makes Lora’s job all the more exciting. Her Liverpool Gin will continue to be made in Liverpool but the distilling world is really looking forward to what signature spirits she will be inspired to make in the glorious countryside of North Wales.

Head distiller, Lora JHemy and distillery operative, Jonathan CarrollHead distiller, Lora JHemy and distillery operative, Jonathan Carroll

‘I know: all those fabulous new ingredients to look forward to, what could be better? It’s certainly going to keep my nose busy but that’s the way I like it,’ says Lora.

When she’s not busy coming up with new recipes for spirits, Lora enjoys experimenting with food recipes and it’s probably not a surprise to learn that gin features in many of them.

‘People are happy to use wine in cooking but they don’t always think about gin. It works really well with lamb and I make a lovely gin and sugar reduction which makes a delicious syrup for fruit,’ says Lora.

It’s clear that all things gin certainly helps to keep Lora’s spirits up.

More from Food & Drink

Mon, 10:20

The perfect opportunity to experience the very best coffee from the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica!

Read more
Mon, 09:28

Alderley Edge-based TV presenter Michelle Ackerley proves she’s hot property as she heads to the Celebrity MasterChef

Read more
Friday, August 17, 2018

Marigot Bay Bar & Cafe, named after Marigot Bay of St Lucia in the Caribbean, offering South Manchester a bar and cafe that takes you through the many tropical islands via chilled island beers, tropical cocktails and some of the finest Caribbean coffee and cocoa available.

Read more
Friday, August 17, 2018

Renowned Cheshire chef Mark Ellis - of Great British Menu fame - is now showcasing his talent in leafy Eyton, just over the border.

Read more
North Wales

Your granny wouldn’t like it but this Manchester restaurant aims to be out of this world, writes Roger Borrell.

Read more
Manchester Restaurants Asian Food

Guests at a Cheshire Life luncheon soaked up a Mediterranean vibe at the glamorous ski-themed restaurant, Piste in Sandbach.

Read more
Cheshire Life Luncheon
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

At Marigot Bay Bar & Café we love a good cocktail!

Read more
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Fine dining in elegant surroundings makes Pier Eight at the Lowry a destination dining restaurant you’ll want to visit time and again, says Kate Houghton.

Read more
Thursday, July 26, 2018

In Brazil, Picanha is the very best cut of meat, famed for its succulent texture and exceptional flavour. It’s from this celebrated cut that the authentic Brazilian restaurant takes its name.

Read more
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


Local Business Directory

Cheshire's trusted business finder

Property Search