Ever noticed floaty bits in your gin, or that the colour of your bright rhubarb gin has faded while sitting in your drinks cabinet? Maybe you noticed your gin and tonic was a bit cloudy? Here we explore the quirky bits (and bits quite literally!) that add character to Washhouse gin.

We truly believe that the handmade nature of our gin, is what gives it so much character. It’s a labour of love, that means we hand peel hundreds of kilos of fruits, why we let our gin sit a bit longer to rest before bottling, and why we do everything we can to extract all the aromas and flavour goodness out of our botanicals, in favour of looking ‘good’ on shelf.

MANUAL PROCESS

We distil every batch on our property, at our home in Waitoki. If you ever wondered if it could be done on a super small scale – this is it! What used to be the laundry and garage, is now converted into a working distillery.

Our gin is small-batch distilled in a handmade copper pot still with the capacity to produce around 150 litres per batch.  He’s not so shiny anymore, well-worn in, and in places, bandaged back together – but a real workhorse.

To this day our still remains unnamed, which is surprising, since we spend so much time together.  It’s around 40 hours work to produce one batch of Washhouse Gin.  Unlike wine or barrel aged spirits (your whiskies and rums for example) which can take many months to mature, our original Washhouse Gin takes just under a few weeks to prepare to tasting stage (our barrel aged variety however takes three months, as we leave it to rest in oak chardonnay barrels from a local winery down the road from us).

Dad gets up at the crack of dawn to start distilling. Given the temperature is controlled with only a naked flame, and a home-made electronic temperature sensor made by our good neighbour, we only distil when the weather is right to ensure an even temperature.

During distillation, some of our botanicals are carefully placed within a gin basket incorporated in the still, while a select few are steeped within the spirit itself in a handmade botanical bag. This enables the different flavours and aromas to be captured at different stages of the run and all contribute to the unique flavour of Washhouse Gin.  To further extract as much flavour (and often colour) from our botanicals as possible, we also steep fresh fruits and peels in the spirit at the end of the run, for example our Fresh Rhubarb Gin.

We only capture part of the total run, collecting or ‘taking cuts’, to ensure only the tastiest of the distillate is used in our final bottling (any spirit that doesn’t make the cut, so to speak, is re-distilled back down to a neutral (flavourless) spirit and used again.

Finally, we dilute the collected spirit down to an ABV of 43%. This is done over a few days before it is left to rest for up to a week before its then all hands on deck to bottle, hand seal, label and write batch information on each bottle.

Bottling days are family days, with the neighbours. We spend until early afternoon bottling (and, lets face it – us kids giving dad HEAPS, because it’s so easy) and then mum cooks up a feast for us all to enjoy. We always have our neighbour Shaune write on the bottles, because her writing is so much nicer than anybody else’s. Bob is banned from melting tamper sleeves (there were a few singed hairs and tampers sleeves melted to other objects), and Caine has a running telly for the highest amount of gin spilt.

FRESH INGREDIENTS

In addition to the traditional botanicals of juniper, coriander and angelic root, the standout flavours in our gin are from the addition of NZ native botanicals horopito and kawakawa and the use of fresh and locally grown fruits. All our fruits are grown locally in NZ and harvested fresh. Our Navel Orange and Grapefruit is grown in Hawkes Bay, our Rhubarb in South Auckland and Lemons from our own garden.

We often add to this, picked fruits from the local community (and the neighbours!) and use waste fruit when available.

We always harvest our fruits fresh in season then hand-peel, remove the pith, dehydrate and freeze at their peak freshness. In addition to dehydrated fruits, we also use fresh fruits to steep, such as in our triple citrus and rhubarb gin recipes.

You may notice that your gin can seem cloudy if left on ice for long periods or stored in your fridge or freezer. This is due to the high levels of aromatic oils and flavourings transferring through the distillation process and is completely normal for a bold citrus gin as ours. Of course we could have opted for a lighter style or filtration system, to reduce the cloudiness. We have however chosen to distil a gin that retains all of the flavours from our botanical bill and are happy to take a bit of cloudiness for flavour any day!

NATURALLY COLOURED

When using natural and fresh ingredients, as well as a very manual process – the organic nature of this means that nature charts its own course – so there’s a lot we can’t control.

The bright pink colour in our rhubarb gin is the result of peeling and steeping red rhubarb skins in the spirit after distillation. As we’ve used only natural colourings, the nature of fruit as it is exposed to light and oxygen is that it will fade over time. It doesn’t affect the taste, but we do recommend you store your gin in a cool, dark place to prolong the colour. We also recommend storing all of our gins in under 25 degrees.

NATURALLY FILTERED

There are different ways that spirits can be filtered or polished, however given we want to retain as much of the flavour extracted from the still as we can, we do not use chemical filtration, which would otherwise remove those bold juicy citrus flavours.

Because we use fresh fruits for flavouring and colouring, as well as a mechanical filtration system, you may find tiny botanical particles in your gin that have made their way through our 3-way filter system. This is normal and you will find these particles can settle at the bottom of your bottle. All you need to do is shake it before you enjoy!