This week we celebrate World Gin Day on the 12th of June, and, as part of our celebration of gin, we’ve written a blog on the subject. Earlier this year we wrote about Gin Trends in 2021 and last year we penned a piece about The Gin-aissance, so what should we be talking about here and now?
Seeing as World Gin Day is about celebrating everything ‘ginny’, we thought we would highlight the innovative gins in our portfolio and explore how brands and distilleries are pushing the boundaries in production techniques and ingredients in 2021.
Here at bbb, we are very fortunate to have a portfolio of gins which range from the unique and ultra premium 44N from Comte De Grasse, to the classic Harrogate Tipple range, over-seen by industry legend Tom Nichol – who we interviewed last month. Geographically we have gins all the way from South Africa and Australia to the icy hinterlands of Finland. With the plethora of gins out there, apart from price-point, packaging and provenance, what is really making gins different these days?
Audemus Spirits from Cognac is a great example of a distillery which really pushes the boundaries when it comes to both technique and ingredients. Their latest gin release – Umami – is a creative masterpiece of using unusual ingredients to achieve the flavour profile that they want, in this case a distillate of Italian capers and parmesan cheese!
But, before founder and distiller Miko was infusing capers and parmesan into gins, he had discovered reduced pressure distillation techniques. A very precise method of extracting flavours from botanicals at much lower temperatures than traditional distilling, and one that is the building blocks of their world famous Pink Pepper gin. This process allows a more delicate and precise extraction of the aromatic compounds within botanicals. Basically, all the lovely stuff and none of the nasties. The size of these vacuum stills also allowed Miko to set up his distillery in his living room and eight years later and many thousands of bottles further down the line, the distillery is still there, in his house, in the middle of Cognac.
Low temperature distillation or ‘vacuum stills’ are relatively rare. However in our portfolio, it’s not only Audemus Spirits who use this type of equipment and techniques, The Artisan Gin from Croatia and 44N from the south of France put this technique to excellent use as well. Comte De Grasse developed their 44N gin with the brief of; ‘if light were a flavour and illumination a scent how can we capture the essence of the French Riviera?’. They have melded cutting-edge perfume techniques for extracting aromas and flavours from botanicals to create a truly unique and innovative gin. Their distillation process includes ultrasonic maceration, vacuum distillation and even CO2 critical extraction.
We’ve seen first hand how a show-stopping bottle and fantastic liquid can really capture consumer’s attention… The Artisan gin has been completely designed from beginning to end by Vedran the founder. Not only does he use the precise vacuum still method to make the liquid, but he has designed the bespoke and visually stand out bottle himself. A very talented guy and a stunning gin.
Botanicals are certainly a way to innovate, as we’ve seen with Audemus Spirits. Manly Spirits and Inverroche are distilleries that embrace their surroundings to produce fantastic and unique spirits.
Manly Spirits Co forage seaweed from the ocean edge and harvest native Australian botanicals to give their gins a real sense of place. Mastering and balancing very powerful aromas and flavours is an art form and they do it with aplomb. When looking to produce a pink gin they turned to the Lilly Pilly evergreen myrtle tree for inspiration and flavour. Whereas many pink gins on the market are overly sweet gin liqueurs (with added flavours and sugars), Manly have managed to produce a pink gin that is juniper led, fruity, floral and surprisingly dry.
Inverroche is situated in one of the world’s few biomes where there’s an abundance of flora – Cape fynbos – that’s unique to a very small area. Years of experimentation led to the development of the range showcasing some flavours and aromas that are completely new to the world of gin.
Their experimentation with the fynbos led them to develop their own proprietary process whereby they charge the pot still with their base spirit and then layer the selected botanicals in different ways. With over 30 botanicals in their gins they use very specific processes to capture the flavours of the local area. Some are gently steeped, others are placed and steamed via baskets within the pot still and the key flavour elements are then added via tinctures which also ensure the gins maintain their beautiful colouring. Adding the fynbos in this way allows the subtle extraction of aromatics from the botanicals.
Commitment to sustainability should be seen as a standard, everybody agrees that we want to look after our precious planet. Innovation is vital when it comes to sustainability and producers should be pushing each other and sharing best practice to ensure that everyone is doing their very best to preserve our environment. Greensand Ridge is a shining example of a distillery that is constantly trying to lessen the negative impact that they have on the environment. The first of its kind, founder Will Edge recently dug a large pond to facilitate a closed-loop cooling system; reducing water, power, and salt usage as well as hosting a natural habitat for wildlife. In week one, they saved 4000 litres of water and 25kg salt. That adds up to a lot over the lifetime of the distillery! We wrote a blog on the efforts of Greensand Ridge to promote sustainability earlier in the year.
The world of gin is a very exciting and dynamic environment to be in at the moment. Distillers from across the world are competing to make not only great gins, but gins that stand out from the crowd. Innovation is key to staying one step ahead of the competition and we are very lucky to work with innovative and passionate producers such as these. Have you heard of any other innovative methods which we’ve not covered here which result in something incredibly delicious?