What did you do before creating Bright Spirits?
Myself (Sean) and Iain have a long spirits background prior to starting Bright Spirits with Roots, Pips and Peels Gins. Starting in retail, Iain then founded Whisky Auctioneer with myself joining not long after. This passion for fine spirits has always led us down a path to producing.
What made you decide to create Bright Spirits, and what's the inspiration behind your gins?
We felt that there was way too much focus on regionality and personal name recognition - with quality, transparent and very delicious flavours sometimes getting lost in the mix. We wanted to produce spirits that were clear and upfront about the flavour, method and character of the spirit. That’s what formed Bright Spirits. With our gins we took this transparency even further by essentially listing every single ingredient and botanical on the label.
Can you tell us more about the distillation process?
Our gins are produced at Taxi Spirits in London. Moses the distiller has a depth of passion and enthusiasm that matches perfectly with what we are trying to produce. Splitting his time between distilling and cab driving, he is not only talented and dedicated, but is also a genuine character.
The distillation process is through a bespoke 250 litre copper pot still. Everything is distilled with absolutely nothing added post distillation except clean water.
Can you tell us more about the botanicals?
At Bright Spirits, we take a great deal of pride in our ingredients – we need to as we want 100% natural flavour with no syrups, sweeteners or additives. This approach is fine for ginger and citrus fruits, but for berries it creates interesting challenges. Essentially, we have to use over 50kg of berries for a 250 litre distillation. A huge volume compared to any other ingredients that would be used in gin.
The tagline that gets across our approach to the gins is 'Nature Flavours Bright Spirits'; we have really focused Pips, Roots and Peels gins on being spirits with flavour – not flavoured spirits.
What have been the biggest challenges/achievements, or your favourite story so far?
Challenges have been all recipe development based… trying to do things with natural ingredients with bold flavour derived solely through distillation is tricky. Although it is tricky, the bold flavours do come through across Pips, Roots and Peels and we don’t need syrups, sweeteners or additives to get those flavours. With the market pumping most flavoured gin, gin liqueurs and pink gin full of sugar or adding fruit juices after distillation, people operate under the expectation that a distilled spirit is always sweet. So, when Pips comes along with fruit flavours coming through on the nose and the palate, but with none of the cloying sweetness, this gets people really interested and they want to know more about how we can make such exciting flavours and aromas through distillation alone.
How would you describe your gins in 3 words?
What's your favourite way to drink your gins?
For me personally, Roots with its spicy, gingery profile, is amazing neat… add a splash of lemonade and you have an alcoholic ginger beer. Peels again is extremely quaffable neat, on a hot day it works well over ice with a light tonic or soda (think Tom Collins). Pips makes a great gin and tonic, opening up those fruity flavours and aromas. If you want the full experience its always awesome to go full fruity garnish mad with it… what is perhaps now more commonly known as ‘instagrammable’.
But having said that it’s hard to pin down one singular serve for Pips, Roots or Peels – we’ve had mixologists, retailers and customers all feedback really interesting ideas on what they think would work well flavour-wise – even with suggestions that Pips could be used in a Daquiri or Roots in a Bloody Mary. So, hey, a bit of ‘you do you’ as well since taste is so personal! We’re looking to put up some of these interesting ideas in our cocktails section on our website at www.bright-spirits.com, so worth checking that out regularly.
What gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!)?
If I don’t plug Cabby’s Gin here (our distiller Moses’ own Gin) he’ll kill me! He uses the same blend of spices and botanicals in his gin that he uses in his spiced rum. Comparing the two is a genuine master class in spirits as it highlights the world of difference base spirits make.
I also really like Thompson Bros Gin produced in Dornoch. A great combination of botanicals and they are up front about the mix of base spirits and get geeky about how their malt spirit is produced. Very tasty stuff with all the background info jazz available… See, transparency! I like that!
What's next - any exciting plans?
We’re Bright Spirits! Gin was our starting point… we are looking at a fourth gin in our range which will likely come along at some point. Other than that Rum, Whisky, Mezcal, Cognac, Pear/Apple Brandy, Rye, Bourbon, Soju, Slivovitz, Distilled Mead are all new product prospects. We’re keen to try new things – but will make sure we have a focus on flavour and transparency around that.