Founded in Steinkirchen Germany and distilled near Hamburg in the ‘Atles Land’ (which translates to Old Country) by Martin Birk Jensen, the very first batch of Skin Gin flowed from the still in March 2015.
Martin Jensen first founded Skin Gin in 2014 with a distinct concept in mind and a desire to be different. From the beginning of his journey, he had the feeling that many of the Gin brands on the market tasted similar to one another and while delicious, once mixed with tonic were sometimes too difficult to really tell one gin’s set of botanicals from another.
He set out to create something that was different both in flavour and appearance to all the gins he had seen. The naming, the design, the aroma on opening, the taste of the gin itself and brand ethos are meant to well and truly get under your ‘skin.’ From the feel of the textured bottle to aesthetics, the duo wanted to tickle all senses with beautiful simplicity.
With their concept in mind, Jensen then enlisted the help of a distillery situated in the heart of the Old Country, one of the largest fruit-growing regions in Germany and renowned as one of the most beautiful in Northern Germany. Months of trials and iterations ensued, working collaboratively with the Nordik Edelbrennerei distillery and once satisfied, the final recipe emerged.
All botanicals are hand picked and distilled on a base of wheat alcohol before being mixed with spring water to achieve their 42% ABV. Chosen to ultimately create a less herbal and more aromatic experience, Skin Gin uses 4 different citrus (lime, orange, lemon and grapefruit peel) as well as juniper, coriander seed and mint. Specifically, the mint is Moroccan and coriander from Vietnam, both regions known for producing the respective botanicals to have huge flavours.
The botanically intense qualities of the mint in particular is prominent in the overall flavour of Skin Gin. More on this in a second…
Using a method of distillation where the botanicals are separately distilled in two different styles of Arnold Holstein stills – the method is slightly unconventional compared to many gins. By separately heating and distilling each of the 7 botanicals, the process is inevitably longer than most gins too, where all are added at the same time. The benefit however is that each ingredient can be carefully distilled to maximise the extraction of the botanical’s flavours. Once each ingredient has been distilled, a careful blend of the separate liquids is made to create the final spirit. For those wondering who else makes their gin like this – other Gins whose production is similar to this fractional method are Bobby’s Gin and Sacred Gin.
Skin Gin to taste…
Skin Gin’s aromas burst out of the glass. Fragrant wafts of mint and pink grapefruit emerge in a heady mix. To taste, Skin Gin is lively to say the least. Big booming minty tones and a touch of coriander give way to a pervasive fresh citrus.
Juniper plays a very subdued note in the background of Skin Gin. It’s there, but only just and is so subtle as to set Skin Gin on a very fine tightrope between Gin and well… not Gin. Those with a juniper dependency may find this drink more than a little lacking, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that this is an exquisitely made, well-rounded spirit with a smoothness you just wouldn’t expect at 42% ABV. With that in mind, this is perhaps a Gin better suited to those who follow the progressive American movement; traditionalists will almost certainly err on the ‘that’s not Gin’ side of the tightrope.
With the noticeably big fresh flavours and subdued juniper, Skin Gin is probably more a “gin” for cocktails where big citrus and minty tones are called for. Skin Gin’s profile works well in a Gin & Tonic however, and could also pair well with some of the new mixers emerging on the market which would harness its unique mint and citrus forward nature.
Talking of G&T’s... in order to finish off the Mediterranean citrus theme going on in Skin Gin, Jensen suggests slightly squeezing an orange peel before adding a twig of fresh rosemary or basil leaf. We agree.
Taking a leaf out of the perfume industry, Skin Gin is bottled in square 500ml bottles and while they have one gin, there are multiple designs for the encasing. The two flagship designs sheathe the bottle with either an ‘Anthracite’ skin or a ‘Reptile Brown’, which is snakeskin-like and very tactile.
They plan to introduce new designs regularly to create a collector element, and recently launched an ‘Edition Blanc’, which is naturally white. Every single bottle is hot stamped with a copper foil and wrapped around by hand in a small family owned factory located in Northern Bavaria. Recently, they have begun to offer exclusive editions of Skin Gin with various optical solutions in colour and material for clients to customise themselves.
Hotels, restaurants and any company who want to create something special and have their own Gin-Edition, can order a custom design and the duo will come up with a bespoke graphic proposal. Along with an individual design, they will also foil the brand logo of the company into the leather on the bottles as well, completing the tailor made service. With an export list that is now eight countries strong after only eight months, 2015 saw a fast and furious start for the small team.
At the time of writing, an order from the UK and Singapore had just been received, taking the brand to a new audience and expanding the gin’s presence across Europe. The duo have no intentions to rest on their laurels either and intend to focus 2016 on expanding even more within Germany, as well as focusing on their special editions.
With so many gins boasting individuality and a ‘handcrafted’ message, Skin Gin may indeed have a slight edge with their eye catching bottle design, strikingly different spirit and ability to customise orders for specific clients. The gin may well be loud to taste and the brand noticeable on a shelf, but once combined with a humble brand team eager to work for their success, it’s not hard to see why it has already proven so popular.
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