Botanical news: part two

12 November, 2018 by tallenby

In this feature from a past issue of BARS&clubs (republished in two parts for Gin Month), we turned our attention to terroir in botanicals. Read part one here

FORAGING, FOOD MATCHES & FLORAL SEASONALITY

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With so many gins on the market it can be hard for brands to find a point of difference. That is where local foraging comes into play – the use of distinctly local ingredients creates a form of terroir for a gin. While new distilleries have hired official foragers – like Manly Distilling Co’s ex-Noma forager – others have turned to their local producers to invoke a sense of their local environs.

George Burgess, distiller at the Dasher + Fisher brand from Tasmania’s Southern Wild distillery, says that his whole philosophy and flavour exploration is impacted by his background in food and his background with Indian cuisine. “It’s guided the design of the spirits from the beginning,” he says. “I was inspired by Indian cuisine and how complex and intricate the combinations can be, and having travelled through France visiting perfumeries, I was inspired by how they were able to layer the perfumes into top notes, mid notes and base notes.” So he set about combining those two theories to create his gin.

As for why he decided to focus on Tasmanian botanicals to create each of the distinct Ocean, Meadow, and Mountain gins in the range, he previously worked with the seaweed producers that supply the key ingredient for the Ocean gin, and fell in love with their dedication to Tasmanian stories and local businesses. “So I ended up down this pathway of making gin and I thought, ‘I’m going to have another look at that seaweed to see if I can make use of it’,” says Burgess. Then he discovered that it makes for an excellent base note, creating a longer palate experience for drinkers.

While Tasmanian pepperberry can fill in what are often missing mid notes in a gin profile, and while the local lavender notes used may be imperceptible, lavender (according to French perfumers) works much like salt does in cooking, as a flavour/aroma enhancer. “We focus on other local ingredients too, we get bay leaves from Paradise – to get there you travel through Nowhere Else, and cross over the Dasher River,” he says. While that might sound like a quest from the world of Link and Zelda, they’re mappable locations that produce botanicals that Burgess says are incomparable in terms of flavour.

“Early on in my distilling career I was given fresh ingredients from Paradise, and identical ones from Wilmot and there was a distinct difference between the two,” he says. “I thought it was a one-off, but a little later I was given a bunch of identical produce from those two same farms. The hair on my neck stood up as I realised that same signature that I picked up initially was present in every single piece of produce from Paradise.

“And I realised that the French knew what they were talking about – I had just experienced terroir.” So Burgess set about bringing that sense of terroir to his gin creations, proudly showcasing seasonality and regionality in his produce. “I’m going to take snapshots of seasons, and distill it and bottle it and people will be able to taste the best of what is available right now.”

SHOULD YOU REFRIGERATE YOUR GIN?

As pretty as they all look sitting along your back bar – is it actually better for your customers to have the gin ice cold, to give them the best G&T experience possible? Ask a Spaniard and they will probably say yes. But then they will also probably tell you that the perfect G&T ratio is 50 millilitres of gin to just 20 millilitres of tonic.

The scientific theory behind the use of cold gin relates to the interplay of the bubbles and the carbonic acid in the tonic, with the ethanol in your gin – the colder everything is, the better the flavours and textures integrate. Giving your customer a better flavour and sensation experience overall. So consider serving your G&Ts the Spanish way: big ice blocks, huge glass, very cold tonic water, and very cold gin.