‘Still’ time to expand!

In 2011 we started producing our own apple brandy and in 2014 we acquired our first still, Velocity, extending our product range to include malt spirit. In 2016 we now feel the time is right to expand the range further, increase our capacity and to create a dedicated brand for our unique artisanal spirits and liqueurs. To achieve this goal we are hoping crowd funding will provide the answer…

Crowdfunding has been around for a number of years and is used as a tool to raise cash funding for start-ups right through to national brands. The concept is very simple. Individuals, groups or companies can pledge money to a project in exchange for a reward. The reward is a token of appreciation for the support, and could range from a simple thank you, to a product, to shares in the company.

The great thing about crowd funding, as well as the potential to raise money, is that it provides an opportunity to really engage with existing and future customers and investors in a way that could not otherwise be achieved in other ways. It also allows the investors to get a great insight into the project an to feel a part of the birth of something new and exciting.

At Virtual Orchard we started producing apple brandy because we wanted to extend our range of unique products made exclusively from locally grown apples. In 2015 we then collaborated with a couple of local breweries (Concrete Cow Brewery and Silverstone Brewing Company)  to produce malt spirit (an unIMG_0292-aged whisky) using their own uniques bands of malted barley.

The success of these spirits, made in small batches in our copper pot still, made us think that we should increase the range even more, and we now have several other spirits and liqueurs in the pipeline: orange chocolate liqueur, dark rum, vodka and limoncello, with plum, apricot and other liqueurs following later in the autumn. Milton Keynes first Whisky is already maturing nicely and will be ready as a limited edition 100 bottles in December 2018.

Virtual Orchard’s history however is in cider, so we want to develop a new brand under which to market and sell this unique range of artisanal products. We have chosen the name Wharf Distillery as we feel this reflects our heritage and location on Galleon Wharf – an historic site alongside the Grand Union Canal in Old Wolverton. We’re about to start building the web site very soon.

So this is our project that will really help put Milton Keynes, and Buckinghamshire’s first distillery well and truly on the map. If you would like to support us on this exciting journey, and make a pledge, or even if you can send to all your contacts, your support will be massively appreciated. Please go and have a look at our project by clicking here.



Historic Site Under Threat from Development

Change could be underfoot for us as landlords consider development of the historic Galleon Wharf site for luxury housing. So what does the future hold?

Galleon WharfFor over a hundred years Galleon Wharf has played a key role in the history of Wolverton but all that could soon change if the landlord (Suisse Property Holdings Limited) is allowed to carry out their plan to demolish all the existing buildings and replace them with luxury canalside homes.

The site, adjacent to the Grand Union Canal, has a varied history from being the home to boat builders to rail freight depot, from timber yard to it’s current use as home to 8 independent local businesses supporting in excess of 30 jobs. The site also protects the remains of the original line of the Grand Junction canal which, via a series of locks, descended to the River Ouse years before the Irontrunk aquaduct was successfully built.

Apples on the wharf

Suisse Property Holdings, who took over ownership of the site from Jewsons, now wish to build a number executive canalside dwellings displacing the 8 businesses which have now become firmly established over the past 4 years. Although planning permission has not yet been sought, pre-planning consultation with Milton Keynes’ Planning Authority as well as with the Canal & Rivers Trust has taken place and proposals are at an advanced stage with a planning application imminent.


If planning is approved there will be a massive impact on the local businesses who will have to seek new homes. There will also be an impact on the ecology of the area as the site sits within the canal conservation zone, and then there is the visual impact that any development will bring. This is of particular significance as in addition to the proximity to the canal, the wharf is also adjacent to several scheduled ancient monuments, the Ouse Valley Country Park and several Grade II listed buildings. Above all, yet another piece of our precious heritage could be resigned to a street name.

Virtual Orrd & Wharf Distillery

At Virtual Orchard and Wharf Distillery we are already anticipating the worst possible outcome and have already begun researching options for relocating to a similar historic site within Milton Keynes. Unfortunately sites of this nature are very few and far between with many already converted to offices or dwellings. Our search therefore may take us outside of MK and into the Buckinghamshire, or even Northamptonshire countryside. It would be a sad day if Milton Keynes’ (and indeed Buckinghamshire’s) first cidery and distillery are forced to relocate over the border.

We’ll keep you posted on developments so watch this space…