Fifty Eight Gin is a one man band operation, the gin distilled under a railway arch in Hackney Downs by Australian founder Mark Marmont, a former dive instructor and boat skipper, who fell in love with the cocktail industry and gin, particularly, when he moved to London in early 2007.
Mark developed an interest in setting up his own distillery after helping his wife establish her business. After a year of tasting and tinkering he had the recipe – his perfect blend of savoury and citrus. Mark was experimental in his choice of botanicals, making interesting substitute choices, such as bergamot for lime.
Fifty Eight Gin was named after his address, 58 Colebrooke Row, a domicile which may well ring a bell for cocktail connoisseurs, as it’s only a few doors down from award-winning bar 69 Colebrooke Row. In fact, Mark has cited the bar – and particularly its star barman Tony Conigliaro – as a huge influence in the production of his spirit. He decided to drop the “colebrooke road” part of the address out as to not confuse customers as to where it was made. Call it an nod, as opposed to a birth place if you will…
58 Gin uses a total of nine botanicals: juniper, coriander, angelica, bergamot, lemon, pink grapefruit, cubeb berries, orris root and vanilla. Mark actually peels and dries the bergamot himself, and buys the orris root and angelica from a Chinese herbalist, which ensures that they are of optimum freshness.
The base of the gin is a 50% ABV wheat based spirit. This, along with the botanicals, is poured into Mark’s trusty 60 litre Portuguese Alembic pot still, and is left to steep overnight. 58 Gin is made using a “one-shot” method and Mark, dedicated to the craft as he is, makes sure that distillation is done as slowly as possible (typically six hours) to maximize the extracted flavour. The gin is then bottled at 43% ABV.
Fifty Eight gin has a citrus lift on the nose, leading to a classic flavour prolife of juniper and coriander to taste. The Angelica and vanilla help anchor the gin while the trio of citrus emerge once more. Even though it is by no means a citrusy gin, the pink grapefruit and bergamot peel stand out throughout and make it an ideal choice for a G&T. The fact that it is a delicate balance of citrus and spice also give you many options come Martini time. Both served with a citrus twist of served with an olive work impeccably here. This is tasty Gin.
As with all new endeavours, it took a few attempts to get right. The first six batches of 58 Gin showed a little variance, but Mark has established the formula to create a really consistent product, which is made in batches of under a hundred bottles.
The bottle is undeniably cool too. It’s stout, with a cork topper and a logo that will stand out on shelves. Designed by The Family Business tattoo artist Mo Coppoletta, the image plays homage to the 1930s prohibition era and as such is a tribute to 58 Gin itself, which was created with cocktails of that period in mind. Even the ink has been carefully selected, with Mark picking a metalling blue said to remind him of the shimmer of a G&T in the sunshine.
58 Distillery also makes seasonal gins – there’s been a sloe, an elderflower and an Oregon grape gin in the range, with all seasonal botanicals sourced by John the Poacher, a London-based forager with an uncanny knowledge of locally grown edibles.
With more seasonal fruit infusions being planned, the ever changing seasonal releases from the distillery will no doubt continue to nurture Mark’s creative streak and provide some interesting limited editions for 58 Gin fans. Our favourite so far has been the Oregon grape, with its spiced yet resinous profile – it is a fantastic alternative to the sloe gin over the winter months.
58 Gin is likely to see rapid growth in 2016, as Mark has carried out a round of investment that allows him to become duty bonded and to add to the 58 Distillery team. The latter is a factor he’ll need to pursue as he eyes up export opportunities in New Zealand and Australia. Adding staff to the roster will also allow Mark to show people around his studio sized distillery, something he is quite keen to do but which he can’t currently manage, as opening the door puts a stop to the wider operation while he tours visitors around.
To add to the 58 Gin success story, there’s even talk of two more sister expressions bolstering the “core range” ranks this year. With that and the inevitable expansion, things are looking incredibly bright for Mark Marmont and his days of being a one-man band will soon seem like a distant memory…
For more information about Fifty Eight Gin, visit their website: www.58Gin.com
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