On trend: Terroir in gin

A hand putting plants onto a copper still
Added foraged botanicals to the still to make Lantic Gin

Terroir is often a term used in reference to wine. When a certain grape is grown close to the sea or in mineral-rich soils for example, imbibers are able to taste a hint of salinity or flint in the resulting wine.

In the same way terroir can also be used to describe certain gins. Distillers can source native, wild-grown botanicals to capture the essence of a certain part of the world in their spirits.

Although this has previously been more popular in the UK, now US producers are catching on. using niche ingredients from coast to coast, north to south, to craft gins that are completely distinct to their environment.

In Rhode Island, Rhodium Forager’s Gin uses red clover, sumac, autumn berries and aronia. In California, St George Spirits Terroir Gin relies on Douglas fir, coastal sage, wild fennel and California bay laurel. More broadly reflective of the US is the just-launched Four Corners Gin, made by sourcing indigenous ingredients from across the country. Think wild juniper from Oregon, yerba santa from the Mojave desert, cranberry from Maine and wild cherry bark from Florida.

Bottle of gin, limes and a glass on wooden boards

Four Corners American Gin

Going local

‘These locally picked botanicals give terroir gins a unique and distinctive flavour profile, setting them apart from mass produced, traditional gins,’ says Donal O’Gallachoir, co-founder of Four Corners Gin.

O’Gallachoir adds that until recently, most gins in America were made from overseas botanicals, either in part or entirely, but now consumer tastes are more discerning. ‘Gin enthusiasts increasingly love a compelling story that connects the gin to where it’s from. They really appreciate and enjoy the narrative behind the gin, being transported to a place with every sip.’

In general, contemporary consumers are increasingly curious about provenance – tracing a product back to its origins as a confirmation of its authenticity and quality. When it comes to terroir gin, this is especially relevant as the ingredients used in the spirit are often growing together.

Botanical tapestry

‘All of the botanicals work together,’ says Chris Garden, head of operations at Hepple Gin. The Hepple distillery is based within the eastern edge of England’s Northumberland National Park. Garden points out how the stream that feeds the estate’s green juniper plants also feeds the bog myrtle and Douglas fir used in the gin.

Juniper berries

Green juniper berries used in Hepple Gin Credit: Julie Sheppard

‘The influence of climate and geography have an integral role in the flavour of these ingredients,’ adds Adam Hannett, head distiller for The Botanist. Launched in 2011, this Scottish gin brand was a pioneer in terroir gin. ‘We wanted to capture the essence of what it feels like to be on Islay,’ says Hannett. The 22 hand-foraged botanicals include three different types of mint, flowers such as purple heather and earthy botanicals like wild thyme. All are sourced from the hills, meadows and moors of Islay, the southernmost Hebrides island, located off Scotland’s west coast.

Terroir gins tend to feature a handful of key ingredients, some of which you can taste more than others. Geraldine Kavanagh is a forager at Glendalough Distillery in Ireland, which produces Wild Botanical Gin. She notes that even botanicals used in lesser quantities are just as significant to the final liquid.

‘They affect the way the gin tastes and feels in your mouth, in the same way as herbs, salt and pepper are small but hugely important additions to a recipe when you are cooking at home,’ she explains. The 30 fresh, foraged botanicals used to make Wild Botanical Gin, include yarrow and sweet woodruff. Both are used in small quantities, but Kavanagh says the gin wouldn’t be as balanced without them.

Seasonal style

In addition to relaying a specific sense of place, gins produced from wild-grown botanicals reflect profound seasonality and freshness. Lantic Gin’s founder Alex…

Source : https://www.decanter.com/spirits/on-trend-terroir-in-gin-512325/

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