Tessa Gerlach – Elephant Gin
As we gear up for the inaugural Junipalooza Hamburg we’ve been catching up with some of the most interesting, delicious and renowned German gin brands to get you up close and personal ahead of time. Here we speak to Tessa Gerlach of Elephant Gin to see how the charitable brand has faired in recent months.
As we approach the end of summer – what’s 2018 been like for you so far?
2018 has been absolutely great so far. Two highlights: 1. we sold out of the Elephant Aged Gin in late March – only a few months after release and 2. we opened our education centre in South Africa.
Amazing, congratulations! What’s the centre about?
The main purpose is to educate local youth and adults in the area on their country’s wildlife about elephants and see them in the wild. The site also offers economic employment opportunities for rural underdeveloped communities such as our elephant dung paper-making facility!
Gin is growing at a rapid pace all across the world with record numbers being set each and every year. What’s it like in Germany compared to the UK. More importantly, how are you seeing growth for Elephant Gin across the country?
In the UK, gin has been a very established spirits category for many many years. Compared to that, Germany is more of an early adopter, but with a growing interest, lots of local gin distilleries have now been popping up all around the country. Despite the increasing competition, Elephant Gin has continued to grow nicely in the on & off-trade in its home market.
Are you seeing a particular response for one of your expressions over another locally, or is similar to in other countries?
Our Elephant London Dry Gin continues to be the most popular in Germany. That said, there has been an ever-growing interest in the Elephant Sloe Gin – a category which has been pretty recently discovered by German audiences.
Very interesting, perhaps it’s just less seen as a style too. What are the big trends you are seeing in the German market and how have you guys been responding to it?
There has been a big wave of more sophisticated drinking with significant interest in perfect serves and classic cocktails. We have responded with supporting and participating in gin-specific offerings, such as gin festivals, masterclasses and other educational events that allow us to introduce more in-depth information and Elephant Gin serves to specific audiences. Another trend, especially with the extreme summer temperatures this year, are low ABV drinks – including spritzers.
We’re super fans of your mini 5CL and absolutely love them. Literally, they are the perfect gift. Have you seen a huge change when it comes to gift buying over the past few years as it seems that globally, gin is really now a major Christmas and Birthday gift item – is this something that you are seeing too?
Thanks – very good to hear the minis have been well received! We too see the minis as popular birthday gifts, but so are our personalised 500ml Elephant Gin products (with the option to have a personal message or name written on the label by our calligrapher). Amongst the huge variety of different gins plus a vast offering of gin-related products (from jams, cheese, sets & more), people seem to really appreciate this customisation option.
How are plans for the potential opening of your own space coming along, last time we spoke it was in the planning phases?
Sadly it is going much slower than we had hoped, mostly due to administrative obstacles and tight regulatory requirements for the building. If it was up to us, we would have long opened doors…
Indeed, it’s the same problem for many. One of the areas that having a distillery with “open doors” really opens up is education and on the whole, do you feel that drinkers are more informed now than they were when you first started?
Yes! Thanks to great content availability through the use of mobile phones, people are able to make educated choices whether they are buying products at a shop or drinks at a bar. At the same time, drinkers’ interest has become more dimensional and purchase decisions are definitely no longer based purely on price points. They enquire more about production methods, botanicals and perfect serves – and are not afraid to try or experiment with new products, which is a fantastic development.
Last but absolutely not least, you mentioned it at the top, and it’s had us curious… Please can you tell us everything there is to know about your Barrel aged edition?!
Robin was inspired to experiment with ageing different variations of our London Dry to add some real heart to their product. When finessing the final product, the goal was to increase the complexity of the gin’s flavour profile without overwhelming its natural fresh characteristics so Robin sought out the perfect combination of new and aged wood. It was key that the juniper-led gin flavour was not overpowered but that the gin had that added body and smooth finish that would really set it apart. After much experimenting, he found the ideal blend was achieved by using three different types of oak and a yearlong resting period. For this limited edition, he chose a 100% rye pot-distilled base to make use of its premium grain structure as well as its spicy and fruity characteristics. Whilst retaining the same 14 botanicals that Elephant London Dry Gin is renowned for, Elephant Aged Gin has increased quantities of these botanicals to achieve a higher concentration of aromas, allowing these characteristic notes to remain prominent after the ageing process.
The result is a premium rye-based Elephant London Dry Gin of 52% ABV aged in oak for an elevated smoothness, additional silky spice, sweet smokiness and a pleasant hint of vanilla excellent supped on its own with ice, or even in a carefully balanced cocktail.
We sold out of Aged Gin earlier this year, but know that Master of Malt still has a few bottles left in stock!
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