Distillery with a difference

Exploring the unique distillery process behind Symphonia Dry Gin.

Last year when we were out and about at events across the country, people often asked me about the name of the gin, and “Why Symphonia?”.

The name reflects the unique gin-making process. In Symphonia, each ingredient, such as juniper, rosemary and rose petal, is vacuum distilled individually, creating separate flavour ‘notes’. I then compose these notes together to create a wonderfully balanced gin and produce a symphony of flavour – hence Symphonia! This unique approach has earned us several accolades including Irish Gin of the Year 2019.

So how is this different from other gins?

At its most basic, gin is a base spirit flavoured with natural ingredients, including juniper.

Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, gin making in England was largely unregulated and of poor quality, until 1832 when the column or Coffey still was invented. This allowed the consistent production of a neutral spirit to which juniper berries and other ingredients (or botanicals) could be added. This led to the creation of ‘London Dry Gin’, and gin as we know it today.

Most small-batch gins continue to be made in the same way today. A large still (often copper or steel) is filled with neutral alcohol, and botanicals are then either added directly into the pot to boil with the alcohol (the steep and boil method) or added in a basket within the still to infuse into the vapours of the base spirit (the vapour infusion method).

Whilst this almost 200-year-old method continues to produce great gins, it can be imprecise and inconsistent and relies on the gin maker taste-testing the batch at various points within the distillation. I realised I could use modern technology to bring out a new side to familiar ingredients, and ensure a consistent and energy efficient process.

I use vacuum distillation in a glass still, which is a new technique for making gin, using processes inspired by my career in the pharmaceutical industry. I wanted to take the scientific techniques I was familiar with and apply it to the art of gin making.

Vacuum distillation allows infusion to take place at much lower temperatures, meaning that each botanical can be distilled at the optimum temperature for that ingredient. For example, fresh basil can be distilled at a very low temperature, and this means it can retain its flavour profile and be detectable in the final gin. This would be lost in traditional methods as the basil would be destroyed in the high heat of distillation.

Being able to distil at different temperatures also meant that I could experiment with ingredients when creating Symphonia. I found that ginger had different flavour profiles depending on whether it was distilled at a hot or cold temperature. I found both brought something different to the final gin, so I include both hot distilled and cold distilled ginger in Symphonia Dry Gin to give its citrus up front burst and long spicy finish.

After distilling each botanical separately, I then bring each flavour note together along with neutral spirit to create Symphonia Dry Gin. I have found the precise nature of the vacuum distillation method has allowed me to create a great balance of flavour, with no one flavour note dominating the gin. In other words, they come together in perfect harmony.

If your mouth is watering with all this gin talk, make sure to help yourself to some Symphonia Dry Gin or Apple Gin from our online shop.

Symphoniagin.com

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