With its homegrown botanicals and a name share with a family whose Tuscan heritage steeps back over a hundred years, Sabatini Gin is marketed as a fiercely proud Italian product. It’s pizza on a sun kissed Venetian veranda, it’s Pavarotti bellowing Nessun Dorma from Juliet’s balcony. All this in spite of the fact that distillation and bottling takes place at Thames Distillers in London.
The four members of the Sabatini family involved in the production of this gin Filippo, his cousins Enrico and Noccolo and their father, Ugo, were seeking a venture that would involve the whole family. Inspired by the surrounding countryside and the buzz of a couple of gin and tonics (influential in so many good ideas), they started to discuss making their own gin.
The brainwave didn’t carry too far through in the cold light of day. The members of the quartet were busy with their own careers (marketing, law and property among them) and the bright, but small spark of an idea got lost in life. That was until, of course, another drinking session.
By chance, Filippo was having a drink at Duke’s in London and began talking to bartender Alessandro Palazzi about the Sabatini Gin project. Alessandro put them in touch with Charles Maxwell at the Thames Distillery, and from there the project blossomed.
The Sabatinis invited Charles Maxwell and his wife to spend a week at their property in Cortona, Tuscany. Here, they presented Charles with their business plan, and he agreed to help them develop a Tuscan London Dry Gin.
The botanical selection process was very much inspired by the local surroundings. The foursome and Charles took a walk around the land and when the family members started to point to the bushes and trees, the idea of what they were after, what might work and how best to convey the flavours started to take shape.
Eventually, after returning to London with 12 samples, the final line up of botanicals was selected and carefully fine tuned down to nine. A love song to the land, the orris, wild fennel, lavender, coriander seed, sage, lemon verbena, olive leaves and thyme are harvested on Sabatini property in Southeastern Tuscany, and the juniper is acquired from various lands across the region. Italy is, after all, home to much of the world’s juniper supplies.
It is nice to see that both the Sabatini team, their site and the Gin bottle itself are candid about the use of a third party distiller in London. Both Charles Maxwell and Thames Distillers are name checked on the packaging, information which is supplied with a certain level of pride (and rightly so), rather than the muddying word play so often displayed to hide a third party production.
The ingredients are from Italy and the gin’s flavour profile is evocative of the region, but it’s made in London. Everyone is being transparent about it and Sabatini should be applauded for doing so.
Talking of the bottle – the packaging is slick. Its green tinted glass alludes to the fresh flavours within, and the punt at the bottle’s base is a cute nod to the Tuscan hills from which the botanicals are plucked.
The green theme carries all the way through to the flavour of the gin too. On the nose it’s crisp and clean. Juniper retains its crown to taste, but there’s a floral hint that lingers a little longer. The herbal elements of olive leaves, thyme and lemon verbena come though, while the wild fennel is discrete but deliciously placed for added depth.
It’s a smooth drink and the 41.3% ABV feels soft should one chose to sip it neat, with the juniper evolving into a sweet, almost fruity finish. In a G&T, we suggest serving it with either a small lemon peel or a rosemary sprig. In a Martini, this would work well either classic or with a twist.
Though new to the gin industry, the Sabatini family does have spirits in its heritage. Ugo Sabatini’s maternal grandfather, Guglielmo Giacosa studied enology, and managed a Cinzano factory in Bolivia and then in Melbourne up to the outbreak of the Second World War.
This ancestry is a sweet tale, and suggests an almost hereditary urge to create, one which isn’t going away anytime soon. Having placed Sabatini Gin through its paces it’s easy to see that this will become a popular choice for many. Combined with the bottle’s easy charm expect to see a lot more of it in the coming years.
As Enrico told us “Im already thinking of the next step.”
For more information about Sabatini, visit their website: www.sabatinigin.com
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