What did you do before creating your gin/distillery?
Boštjan Marušič is computer scientist and has set up companies such as the largest online marketplace in Slovenia. Borut Osojnik studied philosophy but has worked in more technical fields since, and Polona Preskar studied economics and marketing and has spent over 20 years in global pharma companies in international management positions.
How did you move into the spirits industry?
We have a shared love for alcoholic beverages. We have years of experience in the wine, beer and spirits industry and trade. Polona inherited the family vineyard when she was 25 years old and continues her father’s drive for the optimisation of grape selection and planting old Slovenian grape types. She passed taste analysis training and is now in the process of becoming a state approved wine taster.
Boštjan's professional path towards alcohol started when he married Polona and began extensive training in wine cellaring, taste analysis and brewing, and he is currently finishing studying distilling at the renowned Institute for Brewing and Distilling. Borut has been a whisky aficionado since 1990s and was importing and selling whisky in Slovenia, as well distilling absinthe and being part of the Slovenian absinthe revival.
What made you decide to create your own distillery and gins?
We share passion for alchemy and producing and tasting different alcoholic drinks. Building on our knowledge and family tradition, we began experimenting with whisky production in 2012. Gin came into consideration when we were visiting various whisky events. As many whisky distilleries also produce gin, we tried several gins that were quite different to the gin we used to know. But none was exactly the kind we’d love to have. And so we decided to create a unique and premium gin that we would also be able to drink neat.
What's the story behind the Broken Bones name?
In 2016 we were still discussing a proper name for the distillery when both Borut and Boštjan required hospital treatment within a week. Boštjan broke his leg while filling whisky barrels and Borut broke his nose. After this the name selection felt obvious and the Broken Bones name was born!
Can you tell us more about the distillery?
We finally opened a proper distillery in May 2019 in Ljubljana. In it we combine the production space for whisky and gin in one part, offices in the other and also our showroom/shop. Our aim was to have a space where we could produce both whisky and gin in, but also to have this space connected with the showroom/shop. So the 2 are separated only with a mesh and every visitor can see what is happening in the production area while enjoying tastings of our gins.
Can you tell us more about the distillation process & botanicals?
Broken Bones Gin is a fresh and junipery gin based on traditional recipes with influence from its Slovenian origin. To achieve our distinct flavour we ordered our still according to our own specifications that are quite unique. The making of the gin begins with a flavourless base spirit in which 10 botanicals are macerated before distillation. The recipe includes selected local juniper and the distinctive regional touch is achieved with small amount of rose hip and linden flowers.
These botanicals are soaked in the alcohol base together with coriander, two varieties of cardamom, lemon peel and zest, angelica, liquorice and orris root. After distillation the gin is subsequently rested for at least several weeks and brought down to 45% ABV.
What can gin lovers experience if they visit the distillery for a tour/tasting?
We offer 2 types of visits – the Broken Bones Experience, where the tasting of gins is followed by tasting of 3 cocktails accompanied with finger food and Broken Bones pralines. As not everyone has the time for this version, we also offer the Broken Bones Special – a gin tasting followed by 2 cocktails and Broken Bones pralines. Both are guided tastings – we explain the history of distilling, who we are, what we do and why, and the whole production process. Any customer coming to our shop is offered a gin tasting before they decide what they will buy.
What have been the highlights of your journey so far?
We launched our gin at a local gin festival early in 2018 after an intensive testing period. We are very happy with our gin, its progress since then and with the reception by our customers, as we are receiving great feedback. By now all of our gins that we’ve submitted to international competitions have won prizes, including 'Best in Europe 2020' for our London Dry Gin in The Gin Guide Awards, and this has always encouraged us to develop new gins. So now we have a family of Broken Bones London Dry Gin, Broken Bones Navy Strength Gin, Broken Bones Old Tom Gin, Broken Bones Sloe Gin and our speciality – Broken Bones Ljubljana Dragon Gin. But still more are coming!
How would you describe your gins in 3 words?
Fresh, aromatic and bold.
What's your favourite way to drink your gins?
As our gins are so versatile it is very difficult to pick the favourite way to drink them. All of them taste perfectly neat and in many kinds of short or long drinks. Currently we’d have to say a version of Tom Collins cocktail is Polona’s favourite, while Boštjan and Borut prefer drinks like a classic Martini and Negroni. We are also developing new cocktails with various international bartenders and they all work amazingly.
What gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!)?
We are always trying a lot of different gins and at the moment we have Hernö Gin, Roku Gin, Brokers Gin, Cotswolds Gin and quite a few Slovenian gins too.
What's next for Broken Bones - any exciting plans?
We're continuing to work on our Slovenian whisky, namely two varieties - the peated and the classic, which are both still maturing. The first barrels will be ready at the end of 2020. While they are ageing we offer sample sets showcasing their development from the new make through 6 months in the barrels to 12 months mark. We also plan to develop at least two new types of gins in 2020 – a spring and winter edition.