Forest Gin really is true to its name – from wild, foraged botanicals, right down to being hand bottled in the heart of Macclesfield Forest, there really is no better fit for this beauty.
Karl Bond and wife Lindsay are the team that head up Forest Gin, which has recently taken up new premises deeper into Macclesfield Forest. Karl explains how they have access to fresh spring water and that the move allows them to distill larger quantities of gin. Originally, production began at home using only one still, then two when the couple moved to their first premises. The new location is home to eight stills, each producing around 85 bottles per run.
However, one thing Karl is super passionate is maintaining the handcrafted element to the entire Forest production process. Even the bottle design is intricate and well thought out. Designed by Papercut artist Suzy Taylor, it is cut by hand using a scalpel and magnifying glass, then the artwork is applied by hand to each bottle by Wade Ceramics.
Lindsay takes charge of distilling and ensures that each batch is perfect by weighing and grinding botanicals by hand.
As I learn about the Bond history, it’s clear that Karl and his family are modest in their achievements; a twice double gold winner at the 2016 San Francisco World Spirit Awards, and originally sold exclusively on the shelves of Harvey Nichols, it’s hard to believe that Forest Gin initially came from such small-scale production.
When we head into the Forest Karl points out some of the places the family forage for berries, pine and ferns. Hattie, aged 8, is the couple’s daughter and heads up the foraging missions! It is such a peaceful location and Karl talks about his plans for offering team building and training weekends for city bar staff – a unique break from the hustle a bustle in the tranquil Forest, and an opportunity to find out more about the production of Forest Gin.
As we talk future plans, we discuss the newest addition to the Forest collection – an Earl Grey version of their signature Forest Gin. Earl Grey Forest Gin uses the base of Forest Gin but is steeped in Quinteassential’s Imperial Earl Grey Tea. It has a distinct flavour and pairs perfectly with Fever Tree aromatic tonic and grapefruit peel. It’s smooth and easy to sip neat too.
There’s a newly built bar area in the distillery which has Karl’s creativity flowing, and it’s clear the Earl Grey Gin won’t be the last variation of Forest Gin. This is something that clearly excites Karl and it’s very different from the day job he was doing only a couple of years ago. Again, when he explains the change in career for both himself and Lindsay, he’s very modest about the success of their gin. He tells me again that he’s no expert, only extremely passionate and dedicated to what he does here at the distillery.
With the help of Step Bond, the newest recruit at Forest Gin, Karl and his family are extremely excited for what the future holds for Forest Gin – I’m certain I will return again to find out!
A London Dry gin, Forest Gin uses 16 botanicals and where the Bonds can’t forage them, they are sourced using only the finest quality, organic produce. Bottled at 42%, it’s not unusually strong, but neat it packs a punch. With a little tonic, this juniper heavy gin has sweet notes from foraged berries. The finish is smooth and earthy due to the inclusion of wild ingredients such as fresh pine and moss.
50ml Forest Gin
Top with good quality tonic
Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and grapefruit peel
Gintern’s Serve – Forest Gin Bramble
Inspired by my trip to Forest Gin, once home I headed into the woodlands nearby and picked my own berries for this cocktail:
50ml Forest Gin
25ml lemon juice
15ml of blackberry sugar syrup
15ml Crème de Mure
Add gin, lemon and sugar syrup to a shaker. Shake well and strain into an ice filled glass. Drizzle over the Crème de Mure. Garnish with freshly picked blackberries.