It’s a very rare occurrence when a story that begins ‘once upon a time, in a dark club in Soho’ doesn’t end with a few too many cocktails and a sore head the following day… but every now and again something slips through the cracks and the night gives birth to something very special indeed, as was the case with Turicum Gin No.3…
The idea for Turicum came around three years ago, when Swiss gentlemen Merlin Kofler and Oliver Honegger made a trip to London to visit some distilleries and Gin workshops. After toasting their trip in one of the city’s hazy clubs, they decided it was about time they made their own version of the juniper spirit.
Teaming up with friends Philip Angst and Oscar Martin, the Turicum Gin No.3 journey began, going from inception to bottle in around 18 months, with eight months alone spent perfecting the recipe. Their reason for diving headfirst into the industry was simple enough: they just always really liked gin.
The gin is made in the quartet’s very own distillery – the only one in Zurich. This is a huge point of pride for the makers – Turicum, after all, is the Latin name for the city. Honegger takes on the role of Head Distiller, but Kofler’s father and grandfather – both schnapps distillers – played a great part in sharing their distilling knowledge with the team.
The first step in the gin’s production is harvesting; the team collect young pine tips, lime blossom and rose hip from around Zurich – no mean feat in a busy metropolis. Wild voatsiperifery pepper is contributed by Kofler’s father, who lives in Madagascar and the rest of the botanicals are bought in from various parts of the world. These include juniper, coriander seeds, angelica, bitter orange blossoms, liquorice and fresh lemon and orange zest. There’s one stone left unturned, though – the No.3 in Turicum’s name relates to a secret third botanical in the recipe.
Ten of the twelve botanicals are added to grain alcohol with an ABV of around 40%, then left to macerate for 36 hours. Just before distillation takes place, the lemon and orange zest are added. The still is small at 70L, with each run taking around three hours. Once the distillate comes off the still, it is blended with Zurich lake water and taken down to 41.5% ABV.
Turicum Gin No.3 to taste…
The cork pulls out of the top of the bottle with a faint pop and the smell of juniper quickly ascends, accompanied by a gorse flower-like sweetness and a huge floral bouquet. The use of lime blossom and orange blossom comes through, too, lending a sweet, citrus note. It’s an instantly appealing aroma – not exactly traditional, but not a million miles away.
The botanicals are incredibly well balanced – there’s no calamity, everything just sits nicely together, treating the tongue to an incredibly fresh, green, herbal spirit with a unique lashing of citrus. Liquorice has been used sparingly, bringing a mild sweetness that is quickly knocked aside by the pepper, which kicks in almost instantly when tasted neat, bringing a mild burn. Orange and lemon citrus undulate throughout, anchored by the coriander seed. The lasting taste is of juniper and pine tips, which conspire to leave a forest freshness in the mouth.
It’s a wonderfully classic interpretation of the spirit, bringing a sense of place and excitement to the genre without ever straying from the path. Innovation that takes heritage further and one of the best examples of the fact that it is more than just possible to create something unique while also keeping the idea of what it means to be a GIN firmly in the centre.
Turicum Gin No.3 is very easy to drink neat and right at home in a bone dry Martini, but as we know you are all G&T obsessives and would love to know what it can do when paired up with tonic… We’d opt for the classic ice and a slice serve, with grapefruit a fleshy addition to the citrus line up. For those who like a dual garnish – try basil and grapefruit together, as it adds freshness, savoury tones and a a cheeky citrus.
That floral top note also deserves to be played with too, so if you like no garnish but want to add a different dimension, try pairing it with Thomas Henry Elderflower Tonic. For the record, Kofler’s ideal serve requires no garnish – just a pairing with the right tonic (in his case, Swiss made Gents Tonic).
The branding for Turicum Gin No.3 is on point too; a stout, ceramic bottle houses the spirit, onto which a stand out, blue and white image is directly printed, along with the name and other basic information. The blue adds a particularly sharp, modern edge to the overall look, which is an up-cyclers paradise.
Talking of paradise, with a beautiful product (in both looks and taste) under their belt and a seemingly welcome reception, you’d expect the quartet to be walking on cloud nine. Their journey, though, has been mired by regulation constraints, all of which started popping up as soon as they began to experience success. “I really don’t want to know what Tanqueray or Hendrick’s have to deal with,” Kofler said, referring to the troubles they’ve faced despite their small size.
The gin is currently available in Switzerland, Austria and Germany, but the brand are looking to secure further distribution – no easy task in a world that’s swimming with gin, but certainly not impossible given the quality of the spirit and its stand-out packaging.
Despite recent difficulties, it’s been far from a constant uphill struggle – on the most memorable moment of their gin journey, Kofler names their launch on the 8th July 2015. “We expected about 100 people, and hoped to sell the 1000 bottles we had made,” he said. “But it came out different, we had around 500 people at the launch event, which ended up to be a huge party and we sold the 1000 bottles in 10 days. That was just an amazing feeling, to get that confirmation after 1.5 years working on it.”
They’re still hard at work now, sharing ideas and motivations and working on other spirits; there are no variants on the market yet, but keep your eyes peeled for future adventures – who knows when another Soho night will strike?
For more information about Turicum, visit their website: turicum-gin.ch
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