Building the Botanical Library
So when it comes to gin, I know what I like and what I don’t, but how on earth do you begin to work out a brand new recipe?
To start with, I got hold of some botanical samples, some spices from the kitchen cupboard and some things from the garden and steeped the ingredients in little bottles filled with vodka (a suitably neutral spirit for the purposes of this experiment). I tried a wide range from cardamom to rose, basil to lavender and allspice to nettle with some unusual results.
After leaving these for a few days then straining and filtering the contents, I set about the challenge of learning every one by both smell and taste. I figured to work out the perfect recipe, I was going to need to be able to identify exactly what I was tasting. There was no point in tasting a gin and thinking “it really needs a bit more ???” or “the taste of the ??? is a bit overpowering”. For the next few weeks, every time I walked past that shelf I’d pick up one of the little bottles, give it a sniff and take a guess. Eventually, I managed to pin them all down.
It became quite clear to me that several other gins have an incredibly long botanical list, there really is no way that you can taste them all. I have become adamant that we only include a small number of botanicals and each will play it’s own important role. Nothing added will be a mere marketing gimmick. Sometimes a great taste is in simplicity.