I first tried Porter’s Gin in the 2016 Ginvent calendar. I immediately loved it.
The story and development of Porter’s Gin began as far back as 2009. Good friends and bartending elite, Ben Iravani and Alex Lawrence have slowly nurtured this product and brought it to life.
In 2009, Ben opened the cocktail bar, Orchid, in Aberdeen. Two of the bar’s investors were Andrew Porter and Keith Charlton, bio-scientists at the University of Aberdeen.
Orchid became a huge success and took up most, if not all, of Ben’s time. A young budding barman named Danil Nevsky bounced around the idea of making their own gin. They would have to cold-compound it as they didn’t own a still.
The idea remained just that until a few years later when Danil moved on and Alex joined the team. Alex has an unrestrained passion for all things bartending, (he now works at Dandelyan) and asked Ben if they could distil their own cocktail ingredients.
With the help of Andrew Porter, Keith Charlton and the University of Aberdeen, they cobbled together the parts to make a rotary-evaporator.
They created individual distillates to use in the bar which led to the idea of gin resurfacing.
Ben contacted his friend Josh Rennie, who had just returned to the UK after running businesses in China, India and France and the dream-team trio was complete.
An aspect I particularly admire about Porter’s Gin is that the team fully realised the intricacies and foibles when working with botanicals and distillery equipment. Botanicals react differently when treated in specific ways, for example when heated to different temperatures. The team worked tirelessly to ascertain which of their botanicals was best distilled in their rota-vap and which gave the best results when distilled in a traditional copper pot still.
Obviously they didn’t have a traditional still to play around with which is where G&J Distillers, (of Greenall’s gin fame) stepped in. Louise Haye, G&J’s Technical Development Manager, guided the Porter’s team, helping to finalise the recipe.
The outcome was that the more delicate botanicals are distilled on the rota-vap in Aberdeen, whilst the remaining ones are distilled in Warrington. Each combined run produces 3300 bottles of gin
British neutral wheat spirit is used as the base. G&J Distillers create their half of the recipe and the liquid is then transported up to Scotland. An unfortunate environmental footprint in the quest for flavour perfection. Hopefully, in the future, they’ll be able to use their own copper pot still or one that’s a little closer!
The team are constantly looking at ways to become more sustainable. The rota-vap was installed behind the bar so hasn’t required the use of a third location and the glass bottles are re-used in the bar for table water or storing homemade cordials and batch cocktails.
Porter’s Gin was launched on 5th December 2015.
Juniper from Italy
Orris Root from Italy
Coriander Seed from Morocco
Angelica from Saxony
Liquorice from China
Almond from Spain
Lemon Peel from Spain
Orange Peel from Spain
Cinnamon from Sri Lanka
The above botanicals are distilled by G&J Distillers in a copper pot still. The following botanicals are distilled in the rota-vap:
Pink Peppercorn from Brazil
Cassia from South East Asia
Buddha’s Hand from China
Depending on the botanical, they are macerated for 24 – 48 hours prior to distillation in varying percentages of alcohol.
The sleek bottle design was created to meld together the concepts of old and new, reflecting the use of both traditional and modern methods of distillation.
Design agency, Nevis designed the label using custom-drawn artwork by Suzanne Scott from Whimsical Lush. The botanicals are depicted in a classical deep green fashion, whilst the copper embossing, (a nod to the pot still) and black border made a striking juxtaposition. It’s certainly a distinctive bottle, one which you will easily spot on a back bar.
Aromas: Gentle nuanced lavender and purple tones with smooth white pepper and white chocolate. Spiced orange peel appears in the background. A touch of lemon balm alongside an integral sappy juniper core with gentle earthiness underneath.
Palate: Smooth in texture, but a little lighter than expected. Dominant juniper characters with black pepper and zesty citrus. Gentle heat and a great length.
With Tonic: Bright green stalky juniper and coriander aromas. A sumptuous texture. Zesty zingy citrus with earthy depth and a spiced orange finish. Refined and delicate.
I’m really impressed with Porter’s Gin. The team are taking every aspect of distillation seriously and showcasing how to approach your botanicals. The resulting liquid is a solid example of how to do it well.