What did you do before setting up Distillerie D'Occitanie?
We are a team of three - Nina and I are originally from the North East of England and moved to France in 2011, and Loic Lassalle is a native Frenchman from the Hautes Pyrenees. Nina and I have a bar and restaurant in Luz St Sauveur in the French Hautes-Pyrenees. We also have the Brasserie du Pays Toy, a brewery specialising in English style beers which we created in 2017. Loic worked at the brewery since 2018 and joined us in creating the distillery in 2020.
What made you decide to create your distillery?
Having seen the birth and boom of the gin industry in the UK in recent years, we were aware this same pattern would likely happen in France. We had also spent some time in Spain and had seen the same trend and knew it would only be a matter of time before artisanal gins would really come to the forefront of the drinks industry here in France. Four years earlier we had created a brewery, Brasserie du Pays Toy, brewing English style beers. We created our brewery having witnessed the evolution of the craft beer industry in the UK and Europe. We knew there was a gap in the market for craft beer in our area and we were motivated to fill that gap.
What is the inspiration behind your Lost Mountain Gin?
The same pattern emerged for the birth of our gin. There wasn’t a good quality, locally produced gin available. We also realised that a distillery of any kind failed to exist in the Hautes-Pyrenees and to be the first to open one would be a real bonus to us. I felt inspired to make a good quality gin for the people here to enjoy. Gin isn’t a widely drunk spirit in the south-west, and traditionally if you asked for a G&T you would get the choice of one, possibly two very basic, industrially produced gins. I wanted to produce something of quality and substance, to let the people here see there is a lot more to gin than poor perception they had of it.
Can you tell us more about the distillery and your distillation process?
The distillery comprises of ‘Bertha’, our 500 litre copper still. We use two techniques when making our gins, maceration and vapour distillation. The emphasis of our distillery is to produce a rich juniper London dry-style gin from superior, organic botanicals. We also produce a second gin which is infused with genepi, a mountainous plant that only grows above an altitude of 2000-3000 metres. Being located in the Hautes-Pyrenees we wanted to produce a gin which encompassed ingredients from the mountains. Following the distillation, the bottling, capping, labelling takes and packaging all takes place here on site, nothing is out-sourced.
How would you describe your Lost Mountain Gin in 3 words?
Mountainous, refreshing, aromatic.
What's your favourite way to drink Lost Mountain Gin?
I don’t think you can beat the simple pleasure of a classic gin and tonic, lots of ice and a garnish that elevates the gin...plus blue sky and sunshine always helps!
Which gins would you always have on your shelf (other than your own of course!)?
We tend to veer towards classic gins. I feel that often people are over-complicating gins with very exotic flavour profiles, however for me I really like Bear Brothers Gin from France, Gin Mare from Spain and classic Hendricks Gin from Scotland.
What’s next for you and Distillerie D'Occitanie?
Because of the pandemic and the restrictions that were placed upon us, once everything has opened up we will be focussing on strengthening the brand and growing it further afield across France and into UK.
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