Meet the 2018 Bursary Gins
Junipalooza is not just a great opportunity to taste your way around the gin world, it’s the perfect opportunity to try something entirely new. And not just new to you, but to the world. With that in mind, each year we hunt around for gins that really excite us and offer two Junipalooza bursary spots. The aim is to help boost promising brands and give them a platform that would otherwise not be within reach – one British and one international – get their faces and, most importantly, their gins in front of thousands of enthusiastic gin drinkers.
You can wet the babies head, so to speak, by heading to their stands and welcoming them in the UK Gin world with open arms. So, without further ado, get ready to say a very warm hello to:
SIX DOGS KAROO
No one really knows where the Karoo begins and ends. Most don’t even know there is such a thing as the Karoo – a South African bioregion that is best described as an aggressively diverse wilderness. The only thing we really know is that we love saying the word Karoo. It just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Go on, say it again: Karoo.
Nestled amongst the Karoo in a little valley called De Wet, a team of intrepid distillers have harnessed some of their wild local bounty to make Gin.
The journey started in the most humble way: a shed normally used to house six dogs and an old copper geyser was converted into a still house. It was basic and rustic, but it was fun and effective and, having sniffed out an idea, Charles Bryant was soon joined by his brother Glenn and his friend Luigi Marucchi as the project moved from hobby to serious endeavour.
So serious, in fact, that their foray into craft distilling actually began with custom-designing a traditional copper still to their precise specifications. With this attention to detail, the botanicals were going under the microscope too, and they quickly found that some of the delicate botanicals would be better preserved by being distilled under vacuum and blended into the gin later at a later stage, a process that they have honed ever since.
So what are these ingredients and why are we so excited about them? Well, like many South African distillers, they use wildly growing local flora, but they combine them with ingredients they grow on their farm too, alongside supporting neighbouring farmers who grow specific fruit for them.
Twelve local botanicals make their way into the mix (as well as local mountain water collected in the region), and all are distilled at Six Dogs Distillery. Notes of juniper and wild lavender bring the smells of Karoo to the gin’s aroma, followed by a fresh medley of citrus including limes, mandarins and farm grown lemon buchu. To prevent the gin from venturing too far into the weird world of Fynbos madness, cassia, chamomile and angelica hold the line, while the delicate flower of the acacia thorn adds a very subtle top note and soft sweetness. It’s a delicious, rounded gin and genuinely one of the most exciting flavour profiles to have emerged in the past few years.
We love Six Dogs’ ability to capture the South African wilderness. The gin takes you on a wild adventure and within a few sips you are transported to a distant place. You’ll be standing at Junipalooza one minute, and the next will have vanished onto wild planes and surrounded by soft floral scents.
We should note, too, that this isn’t a weird introspection of how much fynbos can be jammed in a bottle – this is still very much a gin, but its got just enough of its own style to be unique. The flagship Dry Gin is a stand out offering from one of the world’s exploding markets for Gin and it’s one that all gin fans should get to taste – not just because it’s a fantastic gin, but because its a great example of what’s going on in the gin scene down there.
Meet the Hairy One. Or more precisely, the once hairy half boy, half billy-goat that serves as the inspiration behind Isle of Man based Distillery, Fynoderee. Tall tales and folklore are commonplace on the island, and stories that have been passed down from generation to generation seem to hold more than a grain of truth to the Manx people.
To recount the tale of the “Kitty Kerruish and the Fynoderee” would be to begin an essay, which we’ll save for all its glory in the full review, for as enchanting as the fable is, it is not why the distillery has our undivided attention and why we are delighted to be presenting them as our British bursary spot holder of 2018.
Nope, our reasons for hosting Fynoderee are much more simple: This brand is the living, but all too rare, example of someone taking an idea and absolutely nailing it. The UK has so many rushed, half-idea gins to its name, with dozens (or even hundreds) of gin makers having rushed onto the scene, desperate to catch the wave regardless of how prepared they were. Not Tiffany and Paul Kerruish, though, who have teamed up with Master Distiller Gerrard Maclusky to create their offerings. The trio are taking their time and have taken the unusual route of not launching with their flagship product.
Instead, knowing that they wanted to make a product brimming with local provenance, they are going to release four seasonal editions first, learning their way around local botanicals as they hone their final concept.
It is this slow and steady approach that we admire the most. To hear a voice say “we are not sure yet,” not because of a lack of confidence, but because of a determination to get it right, is totally refreshing. Not just because they are improving as distillers and not able to deliver the calibre yet (they have a steady hand at the helm in Macluskey) but because they genuinely want to explore first and have others join them on this journey. They have a story with incredible depth, that’s not just well considered but interlaced, combining both the people and the place. They are not on a quick turnaround mission, but a twisting tale that will have many chapters, just like the island fables they drew their inspiration from.
Another reason we selected them, as you’ll soon realise, is because the spirt that they make is exceptionally tasty. Two of the seasonal editions will be on offer at Junipalooza, the last drops of the Winter and the Spring. You’ll get to taste the differences as you hear about how each Gin is both a literal and an interpretive version of the Isle of Man. Theirs is a story that’s still taking shape, and we’re sure you’re as keen as we are to be a part of the formative chapters.
If you haven’t managed to get hold of your tickets yet,
don’t miss out.
There’s less than 4 weeks to go… Happy Junipalooza folks.
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