The world appears to be saturated with small batch gins, with new ones popping up seemingly every other week. In the same way that, in the UK beer industry, “craft” seems almost inseparably from the adjective “hoppy”, “small batch” has come to be seen within the gin-quaffing community as a synonym for “quality”. Whilst we are by no means suggesting that small batch gins aren’t frequently fantastic, this tunnel vision means that many gin enthusiasts turn their noses up at companies wishing to produce their spirits in a different manner, and are therefore missing out on some real wonders! One example of such a delicious, innovative and extraordinarily ambitious brand is Porter’s Gin.
Porter’s Gin came about when two bartending veterans, Ben Iravani (Monkey Bars) and Alex Lawrence (Dandelyan) met at Ben’s cocktail bar, Orchid in Aberdeen. They team up with Ben’s old school friend, Josh Rennie – recently back from spending five years travelling around China – and, after three years of experimentation, research and the cobbling together of machinery from eBay, Amazon and a guy 20 miles down the road, Porter’s Gin was born. Less than two years on from its launch, the brand has big dreams to become global and a staple on most bartenders’ shelves, alongside Sipsmith and The Botanist.
So what makes Porter’s Gin different?
First and foremost, what sets Porter’s Gin apart from other brands out there is the double distillation process. One of Ben’s family friends, Professor Andrew Porter of Aberdeen University – who was sentimentally thanked with the gin’s adoption of his name – sourced a rotary evaporator for them, which allowed the trio the distil anything they wanted at incredible cold temperatures. This opened up a whole new world of opportunities as it meant that they could use delicate ingredients that the usual distillation process would boil or stew to ruination.
Josh quickly became the botanical researcher, bringing bags full of unusual herbs, fruits, plants and spices into Orchid to experiment with flavour extraction. Eventually, a recipe using both new rotary evaporation and traditional distillation techniques came to light that was just what they were looking for.
How to meet the demand?
Unlike most new gin companies, the Porter’s Gin team had no intention of remaining small batch. After selling their initial bottling of 3,000 within a month of launching, they started looking into how big brands such as Tanqueray produced the volumes they wanted. This brought them to G&J Distillers in Warrington (responsible for Greenall’s, Berkeley Square and Opihr). Here, they were asked, “Where do you see the gin in three years time?” which was instantaneously answered wit the word “global”. Satisfied with this response, the brand was taken on board – although the Porter’s Gin team continue to distil elements of the recipe in their rotary evaporator.
What are the botanicals?
Pink peppercorn is the primary botanical. Delicately treated at low temperatures in the rotary evaporator, it gives Porter’s Gin a lovely roundness that its black counterpart lacks.
Another key and truly unusual element is Buddha’s hand – a bizarre, fingered citron that yields no fruit when cut, just pith, but which is enormously aromatic. Again, this has to be distilled deftly in the rotary evaporator.
Other ingredients however benefited from the traditional means of distillation. These include juniper, angelica, almond, coriander, liqourice, lemon, orange, orris root, cassia bark and cinnamon.
What does Porter’s Gin taste like?
The resulting gin has a bold juniper body and unique citrus profile that is refreshing, bright and easily quaffable (read our full review here).
Gin Slinger and Brand Ambassador, Jack Wareing, states:
“We all come from a bartending background and therefore wanted the gin to use used and for people to be creative with it. We didn’t want to be some novelty gin that people only try because of an unusual ingredient; we wanted it to be delicious and different but not divisive so that it appeals to most palates. We’re definitely a “bartender’s gin” – something that is a bit off the beaten track, that is still completely independent, and which welcomes experimentation. We don’t want to tell people how to drink our gin, that’s why there is no perfect serve on the label and we don’t give you garnish suggestions. Ben drinks his without garnish whilst Josh has his with a wedge of orange. It’s very much left up to the drinker, and that’s how we like it.”
Where does it fit within the gin market?
Whilst they align themselves quite heavily with the Scottish gin movement but wanted to stay away from having this particular palate. Jack hypothesises, “We’re in the same vein as a London Dry but with an extra element. We would be on the same shelf as The Botanist but we’re a little easier on the pocket.”
Less than two years old and already slaying it on the on-trade scene, the brand’s current priority is expansion over introducing new products. Whilst there are ideas for new beverages, these are just that at present. Having purchased two new rotary evaporators – their patched together original has been superseded – the team now have the ability for infinite experimentation, and they are in no rush to push out half-realised ideas for the sake of it.
Jack faintly hints at what may be to come, commenting wily that “There is a reason why the parent company is called ‘Langstane Liquor Company’ and not ‘Porter’s Gin’. There is room for a lot more in the future and this may not necessarily be gin-based.”
We at Sated certainly cannot wait to see how this extraordinary company develops. To find out what we think of Porter’s Gin as a product, read our review here.
To learn more about Porter’s Gin, visit their website here.