On the origins of botanicals - Part 1: intro and citrus camp

Botanicals... Why can’t a gin distiller stress enough the importance of those herbs, berries, seeds, roots, peels, flowers, leaves that make her/his product? There’s a straight forward answer to it, one would say: it’s what makes one’s gin unique and characteristic. Botanicals are the essence of a gin distiller’s craft. If you strip a gin from all the added value related to the bare bottle content, if you disregard the story, the brand, the people, the distilling procedure, the marketing, the lifestyle and the visual identity, the one pure essence will always be its botanicals.

 

When it comes to taste

When tasting gin, you always try to recognize the botanicals, the balance between them and how they relate to alcohol content. In comparison with tasting wine or whisky for example, it is very straightforward. Wine is basically composed of only one main ingredient and one can sense all kinds of flavours in it on the basis of approximation to fictional taste compounds. We will often hear that the taste of a particular wine resembles wild fruits, flowers, cheese rind, roasted nuts, vanilla, autumn leaves, old tobacco, cured leather, cedar, and even coconut. Those ingredients were never meant to be in a wine, but the wine taste still revokes their aromas. And that’s what has become standard procedure for tasting and describing wine, whether by a regular mortal drinker or an esteemed master sommelier. While sipping gin, on the other hand, you have to wonder if you just sensed a hint of elderflower in it, or any other botanical in a particular moment. You see, there is no approximations  in terms of tasting and describing the taste of gin. A particular part of gin’s taste portfolio is a direct result of the amount of a specific botanical a master distiller blended into the recipe. So, you are either in love with that cucumber kick or you cannot stand it, but if you sense the cucumber in your gin, than probably the cucumber is in it. If you're willing to read more on how taste is formed, you can get more info on this blog post.

 

Essence of gin

And that’s why it is of great importance for a gin distillery to be opened with the botanicals portfolio. It is, as said, the essence and scope of its interest. In that way, it tells the story and becomes more intimate to the consumer, allowing it to understand the product better. Since the topic on botanicals is vast and complex, it has been divided into four chapters that separately cover four aroma camps that form the taste of Luftbremzer Gin. We’ll start with citrus, then move to herbal/floral, then rooty camp and finish with every gin’s backbone, her majesty the juniper. Join us on this joyful journey through Luftbremzer botanicals.

 Luftbremzer orange lemon peel

 

Bitter orange peel

If you’ve never been to island of Korčula located in southern Adriatic, you just have to keep coming back once in a while. This beautiful piece of rock represents a unique fusion of beautiful nature, thousands of years of cultural tradition and history, and modern tourism. Numerous beautiful beaches and bays, luxurious hotels and summer houses, centuries old olive groves and vineyards, and ancient towns and villages on the island which seem as if they have remained lost in some long past time attract tourists from all over the world to this island (source: http://www.ikorculainfo.com/). Have you heard of Marco Polo, one of the greatest explorers that ever lived? He was most probably born there, FYI. Most importantly, there is a little family farm Radovanović that grows only a dozen trees of pure citrusy bitterness from heaven. Every year those meticulous people pick bitter oranges and send them whole to Zagreb to our distillery. We then peel the fruits and dry their peels slowly at a room temperature to lose the moist but retain all the rich aromas. We make sure to peel off the orange skin but omit the white under skin often called the pit, because once distilled that white stuff lives the taste of cats’ urine... literally.  It’s a slow and painstaking work but mandatory in order to give our gin that citrusy and jammy feel with gentle bitter accent.

 

Lemon peel

Not far from Korčula is the island of Vis, another simply staggering wonder of nature located in Croatian archipelago. Alongside the fact that it has become a must see yachting destination, it is also renowned as an island of organic lemons. Our friend Ante and his Raffanelli family own an organic lemons orchard containing around 6000 trees. One small amount of their harvest is every season delivered to our distillery for further processing (peeling, drying –just like the bitter orange treatment described earlier).

While developing Luftbremzer Gin recipe, we wanted it to be characteristic and unique, but good old citrus notes had to be present. It’s nothing inventive; we have just followed the old path of experienced gin distillers. We just love the zesty and fresh lemon scent and jammy and temperament accent of bitter orange that form our citrusy part of the distinct Luftbremzer Gin taste palette.

Luftbremzer Negroni Orange peel