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Zoom Zoom Magazine Issue 29

ZOOM-ZOOM \33 distillery. The result is the gin provides a distinct sense of the place it was made in, both in the terms of the taste — Snowdonian heather and gorse are unmistakable in Yellow Label — and in terms of its provenance and story. This reliance on local produce means he’s limited to the quantity of gin he can produce, but he likes it this way: “You can either make a small amount of something amazing, or an awful lot of something quite good. I struggle to find the passion to make an awful lot of something quite good.” Small-batch production (he bottles, by hand, only 10,000 of each gin annually; Hendricks, for instance, bottles 1.5 million) allows him to personally monitor every step of the distillation process, and the result is award-winning quality. Chris suggests it is this quality, replicated across the craft industry, that has sustained gin’s recent rise in popularity. We drive into Snowdon’s foothills to help forage some of the yellow gorse flowers that both give Yellow Label its name and feature in its recipe. Nearby, Chris is planting juniper so that in ten years his gin will exclusively feature juniper grown on this hill. This isn’t a financial decision, as it would be cheaper and quicker to buy the juniper in, but Chris does it “because it feels right, not because it adds up”. This is representative of the craft gin movement’s approach to business: it’s not about making money; it’s about passion and the determination to create something unique. It’s a theme that clearly resonates with customers: in the run-up to Christmas the distillery completely sold out, yet Chris says he will never increase production and risk compromising quality. In the longer term, Chris has plans to create a coffee liqueur (in partnership with a Llandudno coffee roaster, in an attempt to create the world’s best espresso martini), as well as a whisky and a vodka, but for now he is primarily looking to create ‘gin experiences’. These might range from chefs taking customers to the mountains and cooking gin-inspired meals on a gas stove, to trips to learn about Forager’s ingredients followed by tastings at the distillery. These experiences are meant to cement the connection between the product, the landscape and the consumer in a way that big multinational companies can’t offer. Chris’s impressive achievements, passion and vision help answer the broader question as to why craft gin has boomed in recent years. Artisan distillers have captured the imagination of drinkers not only by creating an exceptional product, but by further engaging their customers through sharing stories and creating personal experiences that inspire an emotional connection. With the future of juniper safe in the vaults of the Millennium Seed Bank, and innovation sprouting in distilleries everywhere from Cornwall to Scotland, an exciting future lies ahead in the world of craft gin. GINNOVATION There are dozens of British craft distilleries making a variety of creative and tasty gins. Begin your taste tour here… Jinzu This innovative recipe featuring cherry blossom, sake and yuzu, by Bristol bartender Dee Davies, won a Diageo competition last year, and was then put into commercial production by the beverage giant. It’s named after the Japanese river whose banks are lined with cherry blossom trees. Silent Pool The intricate flavours in this Surrey-made gin, courtesy of 24 botanicals, bagged a gold medal at the 2016 World Gin Awards. Master distiller Cory Mason takes special pride in the traditional methods and the purity of the water used, which is drawn from the famous Silent Pool nearby. Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin This is just one of a raft of interesting gins made by Northamptonshire-based Warner Edwards. They attribute the smoothness of their products to the distillery’s handmade German still, which they’ve named ‘curiosity’ after a cat left paw prints in the drying cement of the distillery floor.


Zoom Zoom Magazine Issue 29
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