Laura and I were fortunate enough to be invited along to a special one-off evening last week. Hosted at Project 52 courtesy of Love Wine; a tasting evening with Audemus Spirits. Neither of us really knew what to expect and we were both very intrigued and excited. We knew Audemus’ flagship product was a Pink Pepper gin which after reading some source material left us excited to try, however, neither of us being huge gin drinkers we felt a little out of our depth but our doubts were soon left to rest.
Our evening was hosted by one-half of Audemus spirits, Ian Spink the charismatic “Man on the Streets”. Ian moved to Cognac and bought an old mansion which he spent 4 years learning how to renovate; he assured us you can learn anything on YouTube. Being a passionate cook he then started a soup company, yes, he accepted the challenge of being an Englishman trying to sell soups to the French. One day a small Australian man, who didn’t have much money at the time, came in and offered Ian some of his homemade Gin in exchange for some soup. The gin which he exchanges for soup from Ian was the first ever batch of Pink Pepper Gin. This small Australian man was Miko, the other half of Audemus Spirits that unfortunately we didn’t have the pleasure of meeting.
The screening room upstairs at Project 52 was our setting for the intimate roundtable tasting session. The small group of 6 was a perfect size, we were all introduced over drinks downstairs at the bar beforehand which really helped create a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. Ian was charismatic and the story behind Audemus Spirits is more than enough to interest any none Gin drinker. Audemus Spirits is two guys, following their dream who love doing what they really love to do. They love flavours and understanding what goes with what. Everything is made in their living room (health and safety approved of course!). They are not a big distillery and describe themselves as a non-traditional distillery and more of a lab. We love that this is reflected in the taste of their products, you can tell they have been made with passion.
A 44% gin is Audemus Spirits flagship product; its production techniques are unique and somewhat unorthodox. It features two main distinctions to any other gin on the market, the first is the removal of a chilled filtration process at the final stage. This step makes the oils stick together and then removes it. Pink Pepper purposely does not chill filter the gin as they want that smoothness in the gin. The second distinction is the omission of an alcohol ‘fixeter’ which essentially means it doesn’t contain chemicals to bind or glue all the flavours. This means all of the 9 botanicals used to produce Pink Pepper can all be tasted individually and allows it to be enjoyed as a sipping gin. The spiciness of the peppercorns are apparent first but notes of vanilla and tonka bean also shine through. Local spring water from the region is used in the production of Pink Pepper and where traditionally most spirits use a copper still, Audemus have decided to use a glass rotovap instead. This effectively allows them to control the atmospheric pressure inside the still and distill each botanical individually, and at their own specific temperature without compromising the fresh flavour.
Not a gin because there is no juniper, but also not a vodka because it’s flavoured… Umami is a category of its own. Created to mimic a sensation rather than a taste, it truly is a unique spirit that can’t be likened to any other bar cart staple. Although we sipped it straight to better understand its’ complexity, an exciting replacement to vodka in a bloody mary immediately can to mind. The only way to describe the taste of Umami is savoury. It’s made using Sicilian capers, three secret ingredients and neutral grain spirit. Definitely a niche product, but actually Laura’s favourite during the tasting. So much so that Chris from Project 52 made her a Umami based rose cocktail after our tasting session to enjoy.
Old Ma’s started with a batch of Pink Pepper Gin, but what changed was when Miko and Ian decided to reserve 200 litres and age it for 5 months in an old port barrel. This is reflected in the dark colour of the gin which comes from the port residue in the barrel. The oxidisation process in the barrel also enhances the spicy character already present. Unfortunately, you’ll be lucky to get your hand on one of these bottles as only a handful remain available from the 500 bottle batch produced. But fear not…
If you think Old Ma’s is your kind of tipple, there is a new gin in production. Using the same barrel Miko and Ian drove to Portugal to pick up from the Douro Valley, they are ageing a batch for 15 months. Whilst the colour won’t be as dark as Old Ma’s, we’re convinced the flavour will be something quite special and not to be missed. We don’t know yet what this latest product will be named, but look out for Very Old Ma’s (that’s what we’re calling it) at the end of the year, beginning of next.