Pär Caldenby – Strane
Strane, with three gins to its name already, is one of the most exciting gin brands to have emerged from the Swedish market’s burgeoning craft scene. We grilled distiller Pär Caldenby on all manner of things, from production to distribution to – most crucially of all – how best to serve his delicious drinks.
You have an unusual production method – you use separate distillates which are then blended in different ratios into the three final gins. What made you choose this method?
This is a method used widely within the whisky industry, when creating blended whiskies from the component malt and grain whiskies. The idea was to add depth of flavour and strength of character, as well as to be able to balance every batch out towards the desired end result/character. The latter is due to the fact that the botanicals will be prone to slight variations in intensity and even character from different sources.
What are the pros and cons of this method?
The con would be that I have to have all three different gins (all London Dry Gins) available in order to bottle a batch, but that is not a bother. The pros are obvious when one compares the compounded/blended gin to one single straight run with the same balance of the botanicals – a lot more depth of flavour, more intensity of flavour and an altogether superior balance.
What’s been the highlight of 2016 for you as a distillery?
We produce a lot more New Make for maturing into malt whisky than we produce Strane Gin, so the highlight should perhaps be within the whisky side of our business… but one new gin bottling that we did was Strane ”Oaked,” which sort of enters the middle turf between single malt whisky and gin, having been matured for a year and a half in a large ex-Sherry butt (a 500l former Oloroso Sherry cask). From that, the gin got a lovely fruity and orange rind kind of character. It goes very well indeed as an alternative to whisky in a classic whisky & soda cocktail!
How has progress been in the UK?
The response has been very good, we think, and volumes are rising, if from a humble start. The Strane ”Uncut” at 76 % has caused quite a stir, as (probably) the world’s strongest gin – although it is really not about the alcohol, but about the intensity of character by taking it at still strength.
Do you feel like gin has grown in the Nordic region as much as it has here in the UK?
Not at all to the same degree, but it is growing, for sure. The problem is that most people here perceive gin as being a cheap liquor that is used only with sweet mixers and thus, quality is not that much in vogue… But, we are on the right track.
Could you tell us about why you decided to create one of the strongest gins (ABV) in the world?
The Strane ”Uncut” (76 %) is simply the same gin as our Strane ”Merchant” (47,4 %), but not diluted at bottling. It is something I tried and really liked for the massive hit of flavour intensity that comes with it. A truly special London Dry Gin experience of the highest order. Not for everyone – you have to like your gin, but for those that do, it is a must.
When would you recommend drinking the Uncut and how would you serve it up?
Either straight but very well chilled, sipped in minute quantities for an ever growing gin explosion on the palate. Or as part in alcohol-intense and clearly gin-dominated cocktails. It will dominate, for sure. There is no good reason to mix it with tonic though; the Strane ”Merchant” works much better in that role.
You mentioned you have a barrel aged gin now – what’s different about it?
The Strane ”Oaked” has been matured in a single ex-Sherry butt, a 500l cask and the Oaked has obtained plenty of character from that: fruitiness, nuttiness, orange rind, more depth of flavour and length of flavour.
What’s next and what’s coming up in 2017 for you guys?
Well, more of the same, really. But you never know, there is the odd idea looming about, which may come to fruition. Watch this space!
Copyright © Gin Foundry