Batch 1 & 2
What is a batch? It is a blend of three elements; Gin Concentrate, Base Spirit and Glacial Spring Water. I have to prepare/source each element before I blend a 1000 litre tank. For batches one and two the water was sourced from the first 1000L tank of water. The grapes were from two separate vineyards sourced over two years and the gin distillations were a blend of 2 separate distillations.
Where to start, what a roller coaster! The batch started at the beginning of the year with harvesting the grapes for fermentation, having identified them the year before. We waited for the ideal Brix (sugar level) before hauling in the grapes. I made a couple of videos from this year which give you a good idea the process. The oldest tractor ever brings them to the distillery door. The flash floods were a massive challenge. Luckily the power cut only came just on the last distillation.
VLOG 1 – Grape Press Charlie Chaplin Style
VLOG 2 – Battling the Flash Floods
VLOG 3 – Dealing with the Huayco Flooding
Next phase was the Base spirit distillation. This phase is fairly continuous throughout the year as each base distillation take about 36 hours so I camp down at the distillery and check every hour on the distillation throughout the night. A little like sailing at night I imagine! Reminds me of sentry duty or radio stag!
“That which does not kill you makes you stronger”
Luckily come August we had taken on one intern, Will Massam, and then another, Archie Young. This reduced my burden somewhat! Big thank you to them!
The botanicals I buy in Peru are the easy ones to source. The botanicals I import from UK are not so straight forward. The pink peppercorn I am continually foraging for. The ladder goes high up into Penelope the pink peppercorn tree’s branches and luckily, she produces fairly regularly. There are other pink peppercorn trees on the farm, but none produce as many as her. I shall have to cast my net wider as people buy more gin or get a higher ladder! In the summer I can dry on the concrete then finish in the botanical dryer. I need consistent humidity level so I get the same “oil weight”.
Then I cut the base spirit down with some Glacial Spring water and macerate over night using the MOAP, Mother of all plungers to help mix them up! Archie is the biggest fan of the MOAP and can be found up the ladder pretending it’s a microphone belting out ABBA on our sound system.
The gin distillation involves one day of preparation/maceration and one day of distillation. The oven takes it’s time to heat up and not something I want to rush. This 4 hour heat up helps maceration and full extraction of oils from botanicals. We bring in lunch from a local restaurant or fire up the BBQ and put on some home-made spiced burgers during distillation days.
Once I have all the elements I blended in a 1000L tank to very specific quantities. The bottling, labelling, waxing, polishing and boxing ensues with funky music in the distillery.