Bimber is an English single malt whisky that is produced in London. The name is the Polish word for moonshine, a term used for high strength alcohol that is often produced illegally. This relates to the Polish heritage of the distillery's founder, Dariusz Plazewski. He wanted to make craft whisky using traditional methods in the modern world. Since their first whisky was released in Autumn 2019, Bimber has gone from strength to strength.
Bimber produces a classic non-peated style of single malt whisky. That said, they have undertaken trials of peated malt. This is produced themselves using the traditional floor malting process. All non-peated barley comes from the famous Warminster Maltings in Wiltshire, which has been in operation since 1855. They dedicate an entire malting floor to production for Bimber. All barley is grown on a single farm in Hampshire. They use the Concerto and Laureate strains of barley only.
All of Bimber's production, maturation and bottling takes place at the distillery. The unusally long seven day fermentation (most distilleries ferment between two and four days) takes place in American oak washbacks. This gives Bimber a light, elegant and fruity spirit when distilled.
There are two direct fired stills, named Doris and Astraeus. Doris is the 1,000 litre wash still, which produces the first distillate to 33% ABV. This is then put through Astreaus, the 600 litre spirit still. The heart of the spirit run measures 72% ABV. The stills were designed to maximise the contact with the copper. This purifies the alcohol. The spirit is filled to cask at the full strength of 72% ABV. The current capacity is 50,000 litres per year.
Bimber also has their own cooperage. Casks are sourced from Europe and the USA with ex-bourbon and ex-sherry used predominantly. All casks are checked, repaired and re-charred on arrival. For maturation, the mild London climate allows excellent interaction between the wood and spirit. Casks are often re-coopered to be smaller than traditional sizes to accentuate this interaction.
Bimber was founded in 2015 by Dariusz Plazewski and Ewelina Chruszczyk. It is located in the west London suburb of Greenford. Distillation began in May 2016 and the first casks were filled on May 26th. Their first release was actually a vodka, but Bimber's inaugural whisky bottling was not far behind. This was a blend of their single malt spirit aged for six months in ex-bourbon, ex-sherry or virgin oak casks.
September 2019 saw the first single malt release, named The First. This sold out in three hours. Following this, a number of limited edition small batch or single cask releases have been bottled for the distillery or selected specialist retailers. The brand has quickly established a cult following. Bimber has won numerous accolades including Gold and Silver medals for their whiskies at the World Whisky Awards in 2020 and 2021. They also secured the prestigious Icons of Whisky - Craft Producer of the Year (Rest of the World) in 2020.
In February 2021, Bimber revealed plans to convert derelict farm buildings at Dunphail in Scotland. This is located near the town of Forres in the famous Speyside whisky region. The plan is to follow the same traditional methods with barley grown on a local farm. This will then be floor malted by Bimber in a specially converted barn. The expected annual capacity will be an estimated 200,000 litres, if approved.