The Ingenious Chemistry Behind Sacred Gin
“Miraculous…a taste bomb which makes just about every other gin taste like smokey firewater…a stand-alone sipping marvel.” Robert Sandall, GQ
Do you remember when at school you thought that all those hours spent studying maths and chemistry were wasted – “because you’ll never become a chemist without a calculator”. Well, if Ian Hart – the founder of Sacred – skipped his homework, his Gin wouldn’t be anywhere near as special and delicious!
Necessity is the mother of invention, and Sacred Head Distiller Ian Hart was between jobs when he and his wife Hilary decided that a change was in order. With a Cambridge degree in Natural Science and a soft spot for a good G&T, in 2008 he decided to start distilling gin in his own home in London, in his own way.
It is his own way of distilling the botanicals that makes Sacred Gin stand out. Forget the good old copper pot still and replace it with vacuum distillation. Basically, Ian connected lots of glassware, Breaking Bad style, to achieve distillation at a much lower temperature than usual. Extracting the flavour of botanicals at 35/45 C° instead of 85/95 C° makes the resulting distillate a whole lot fresher and tastier. At Sacred Gin they say it’s like eating a fresh orange versus marmalade – vacuum distillation keeps that tanginess and edge that make all the botanicals stand out in the gin.
We would also guess that Sacred Gin is better for you than any other gin as all the good nutrients in the juniper are not killed by the heat just like cold pressed juice… but this is something that we are yet to test with lots of G&Ts over many, many years 😜.
If you think of copying Ian’s way of distilling, think twice: he currently uses five bespoke stills – they are all designed to his own specifications and made especially for him by a glassware manufacturer.
Ian launched his first Gin in 2009 convinced by the encouraging reviews given by the people who tested it at his local pub, The Wrestlers. It was his 23rd recipe and contained 12 botanicals amongst which is Frankincense – hence the name, Sacred.
Sacred Gin’s recipe is based on a formula from the time of the Dutch Gift of 1660. The 12 botanicals include:
- Juniper from Tuscany – essential to all gins and the predominant flavor of London Dry Gin.
- Whole citrus fruits from Spain and Italy – pith, pip, peel and juice.
- Coriander from India – a beautiful dry spice found in many gins.
- Cardamom from Guatemala – an exotic spice popular in many gins.
- Boswellia Sacra (Frankincense) – is supplied by the Sultan of Oman has a delicate resinousity, which compliments the juniper beautifully.
- Orris from Italy – has a floral character and is used to stabilize the flavour and make it linger in the mouth for longer.
- Liquorice from Spain – introduces an earthly sweetness and is a vital component of the Old Tom style of gins.
The Distillation Process
Each of the twelve botanicals is distilled separately to retain all of their individual character and depth. They are left to macerate separately for 4-6 weeks minimum with no air contact in English wheat spirit at 50% abv.
This is a very long time considering that most distilleries macerate overnight with plenty of oxidative air contact which has a detrimental effect on the freshness of the botanicals!
Ian has accumulated a library of over 100 botanicals he has distilled purely out of interest like buddleia, oak bark and lemon verbena for example. Tasting and blending these inevitably led to the creation of new recipes! Encouraged by the success of Sacred Gin, Ian has created Sacred Organic Gin plus 7 additional gins, in each of which a particular botanical shines – Juniper, Coriander, Cardamom, Pink Grapefruit, Orris, Liquorice and even Christmas Pudding.
Sacred Cardamom Gin
Like the name suggests, Cardamom dominates the flavour in this gin. It is made with organic Guatemalan cardamom, which in Sacred’s opinion is fresher than the Indian version. No matter how much ice or tonic you drown this gin in, its flavour will always shine through! Upon tasting it you get aromatic crushed cardamom nose with pine freshness and slightly cracked black pepper. Clean, strangely sweet, invigorating full-flavoured cardamom palate with black pepper spice and faint aniseed flavours. Extremely, long, fresh cardamom finish. ABV. 43.8%.
Sacred Pink Grapefruit Gin
Vacuum distillation is especially key to extract the flavour of the pink grapefruit that is the hero botanical in this gin. Subdued, clean nose with grainy peppery spirit aromas as evident as sweet, delicately fruit grapefruit. On the palate the sweetness of the grapefruit fights the spicy pepper. Cracked black pepper and citrusy grapefruit alternatively features in the long fresh finish.
Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic
Pour 50ml Sacred Pink Grapefruit Gin over ice and top up with Mediterranean or Indian tonic water.
Garnish with a slice of red grapefruit and a sprig of basil.
Cardamom Gin and Ginger
Pour 50ml Sacred Cardamom Gin over ice and top up with Ginger beer.
Garnish with a lime wedge.
Want to give Sacred Gin a try? It is in this month’s box!
Then why not join the ILoveGin club where we send you a new box like the ones below for just £14/m inc free delivery, you’ll get 2 new gins and 2 tonic/mixers each month to try, enough to make 4 G&Ts plus discounts on full size bottles.
Limited Time Offer: Get your first box for just £9 including delivery, that’s £9 for 4 x G&Ts, use code: FB50 in checkout at ILoveGin.com/join