Normally, grapes would be closely associated with wine, Champagne and brandy if used to create alcohol, but the steady need to explore ahead of the usual limits, gin and its floral complexities creates an ideal category to invoke the use of a variety of grape styles.
G’Vine and Ciroc are your two commonly seen brands that use grapes for their base ingredient, but the UK has entered the fray with their first gin to be made from English-grown grapes, created by Sam Linter and James Oag-Cooper.
The South East of England offers a climate suitable for both still and sparkling wines, with English wine producer Bolney Wine Estate a leading name. Due to their shared focus on quality and sustainability, Foxhole Spirits have partnered with the team at Bolney Wine Estate to create Foxhole Gin.
But how do we create such a product?
The end of summer see’s the grapes picked and ready to head to the winery for pressing. Not all the grape material is used for wine production though, with by-products and unused grape juice being left behind, becoming the inspiration for the gin. Once the grapes are bought to the winery, they are placed in the press and would normally go through one cycle which would extract the juice for wine production, leaving between 30-40% of the juice in the grapes. The remaining grape material would be thrown away, but now, the process has changed and it see’s a second pressing occur after the first press has been collected. This extracts more of the grape juice, which is collected in a stainless steel tank.
Within the tank, yeast is added and the juice ferments into an English Wine. Once complete, the wine is drawn from the tank and delivered to the distillery in Albury, Surrey where it is added in small batches to a 350 litre copper pot still. Then, the first of two stages occur.
To create an English grape spirit, the wine is heated using steam from a wood fired boiler, resulting in a high percentage spirit being distilled. The second stage involves the process of adding the botanicals (Juniper, Coriander, Angelica Seed, Orris Root, Liquorice Root, Bitter Orange, Fresh Lemon Zest, Fresh Grapefruit Zest) to the distilled wine spirit for 48 hours maceration. The spirit is then added back into the still for a second time and distilled with the botanicals present.
Once distilled, the gin has natural on-site spring water added to it, before being bottled and labelled. Named after the Foxhole Vineyards and Foxhole Lane, the location where Foxhole Spirits is based, lets see what the finished result is like –
Foxhole – 40%
Very light on the nose, with subtle aromas of peach, zest of grapefruit and fresh juniper coming through. Smooth as it hits the palate, becoming slightly intense as the grapefruit and lemon zest come together. Rich grape flavours follow, with the coriander bringing a warm, lingering finish.
A delicate offering that is one to be enjoyed over ice, crystal cut glass, and a healthy measure. One for the drinks cabinet as we head into Spring.
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