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London remembers its taste for gin

Monday, July 16, 2012 - 03:13

July 16 - London hosted the gin craze in the 18th century - now the city is again home to several gin producers, like Ian Hart. After the financial crisis he packed life in the city to distill his own brand of the spirit. Joanna Partridge reports.

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It looks like a giant chemistry set - it's actually the key to a unique beverage business. Ian Hart distills his own brand of gin - in his London home. It's not just for his own consumption - Ian's boutique brand Sacred Gin is now sold in Britain and around 10 other countries. Today he's distilling coriander seed. SOUNDBITE: Ian Hart, Founder of Sacred Gin, saying (English): "Coriander is seen as one of the most important botanicals in gin after juniper. We have a vacuum pump in the back garden, and the vacuum pump pumps the air out, reduces the pressure and so quite a gentle temperature, this is about 35, 45 centigrade, it's actually bubbling away there quite comfortably. The vapours rise up here across the top into this cooling condensor. You can see the collecting distillate going down the bottom. This is distilled coriander seed. We distill our botanicals separately." Ian says separate distillation makes Sacred Gin unique in the UK and gives it a fresh taste. He may also be the only city trader and headhunter turned gin producer. After the financial crisis, he looked for a new career. He was already a wine collector and gin fan - so began to create his own. 23 different blends later - he hit on a winning version. PTC Few people would give over part of their home to distilling spirits. But Sacred Gin is just one of the brands reviving the production of London dry gin in the city. The British capital was home to the gin craze in the eighteenth century - now the drink is back in favour. Even if it's the production method, rather than location, which allows spirits to be called London dry gin. Jake Burger runs the Ginstitute - where he teaches people about gin's history and helps them to blend their own. SOUNDBITE: Jake Burger, Founder of the Ginstitute, saying (English): "For two hundred years it's been the favoured drink of the English, so rather than kind of a new thing it's a resurgence I suppose that we are seeing. We see small independent producers like Ian at Sacred, like the gentlemen at Sipsmith and ourselves with Portobello Road Gin creating small batch products." Boutique gin brands don't just appeal to British drinkers. Spain's the biggest export market - and the spirit's also popular in the United States. Ian's keen to tap up other countries too - and he's also expanding into spiced vodka and vermouth SOUNDBITE: Ian Hart, Founder of Sacred Gin, saying (English): " If there's interest then we might do a production run maybe of only a thousand bottles. If that goes well, then the next run will be probably three, four, five, six thousand bottles. So basically it's trial and error." Along with his partner Hilary Whitney they have the capacity to produce up to 10 thousand bottles a month. And at the end of the day, they can always enjoy the fruits of their labours. Joanna Partridge, Reuters

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London remembers its taste for gin

Monday, July 16, 2012 - 03:13