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Alex Kammerling – Mr Kamm’s Gin

Mr Kamm's Gin
Mr Kamm's Gin
Written by Gin Foundry

Alex Kammerling is a familiar face to those in the drinks trade, having launched his aperitif Kamm & Sons to much applause in late 2013. Now, he takes on a new challenge – that of embedding his new gin into the bustling category. We caught up with him to take a closer look at the journey so far…

Hi Alex – You launched Mr Kamm’s Gin late last year but you must have been asked hundreds of times over the years given the similar nature of Kamm & Sons – what made you finally take the plunge?

My love of gin started maybe 20 years ago, but it was when Martin Miller’s was launched and I was hired as their ambassador that my passion turned into a profession.

It was actually the trade that persuaded me to launch – during my Kamm & Sons training sessions I give the bartenders a taste of the distillate (before the bittersweet infusion is added) the number of people who told me they loved the spirit and I should launch it finally got me!

There are 45 botanicals on Kamm & Sons while there are 45 in Mr Kamm’s Gin – that can’t just be coincidence. Was that the plan from the offset or when it got close, you made sure it evened up..?

The plan was always for the gin to be as similar to Kamm & Sons as possible, but in the London Dry style.

Obviously, the taste is completely different – after all, one is a gin – but how different is it as a recipe, are there a lot of shared ingredients or is it a completely different proposition?

Kamm & Sons has always had a lot of juniper in it and it is distilled like a gin, but it is only 33% abv. It also uses Manuka honey, wormwood and ginseng as major flavours plus annatto for colour. With Mr. Kamm’s gin, I have complemented the earthier flavours of juniper with the ginseng, lots of liquorice and angelica, fresh citrus and added an extra 4 ingredients (cascade hops, apricot kernel, lemon peel & blue butterfly pea).

It took you 2 years and over 180 trial distillations to find the perfect balance. Why did it take so many variations, what were you looking for?

To be honest, I thought that the process of adjusting the recipe would be fairly straightforward, but I had to completely deconstruct it and start again from scratch. (I am also a massive perfectionist and trying to balance 45 ingredients just took me way longer than I had anticipated!)

Do you remember the moment when you hit the right dose and you knew it was ready to go?

There was no eureka moment…towards the end I was just tweaking the tiniest amounts of ingredients so that it worked in the ‘magic three’ (Martini, Negroni, G&T)

You worked with Thames the first time around for your aperitif, but your parents now make this gin at the base of their garden in Surrey. Was there a particular reason why you wanted to make this yourself and not have it contracted out this time around?

Circumstance really. When I launched Kamm & Sons we didn’t have the room to distil…now that we do have a small space, K&S is too big for it so we still contract out Kamm & Sons, but it is nice to be more hands-on with the gin!

Indeed, must be fun to be able to do both as each involves a different challenge. Another big difference is the small volume nature vs what Thames would normally distil. Is it still a one shot 80 bottle batch or have you scaled the recipe to a multi-shot gin and what’s it like working at that size?

I never wanted to cut any corners and although I tried concentrating it in the beginning (as I wanted the price point to be more accessible) I soon realised through trial and error that you loose quality, mouthfeel and length by concentrating the recipe and I wasn’t happy to sacrifice these elements….so yes, it is still a one-shot.

One of the things that we’ve found is that smaller batches tend to make it a little harder to keep consistency. It’s really difficult to make something fantastic once, but each and every time is another level! How have you found the journey and the process so far?

Consistency is harder if you only have a few foraged ingredients, but as we have 45, if there are any small differences in the botanicals it ‘smooths out’ the final gin… so we haven’t had any issues so far.

We thought it was interesting to see you using barley NGS over wheat and making that known (in that many don’t really talk about base spirit). What do you feel the big difference between the two is?

I tried molasses, wheat, barley, rye and grape. They all have different qualities (but generally the more expensive spirits like barley and rye have the most flavour – although rye was just a bit too big and spicy for my recipe). The barley is a just a little softer and has a nice natural sweetness to it compared to the wheat, which is clean, but more neutral.

And lastly – what’s coming up next for Mr Kamm’s Gin, are you focused on certain areas or is it a case of just growth everywhere?

We aren’t planning any flavour variations or anything just yet – just focusing on getting the brand out to a wide audience, starting with our loyal Kamm & Sons customers!

Alex K crop