What's your history in the spirits industry?
Paul: I have been working in the wine & spirit industry for the last 20 years. I have been previously working as Master Blender for a Cognac House. I have been working on several spirits projects around the world for the last 4 years.
What's the inspiration behind Gin d'Azur?
Roland: We wanted to create a gin based on centuries old flavour combinations from the Côte d’Azur - thyme, lavender and rosemary, along with lemon, star anise, marjoram and mountain savoury - the iconic flavours of the South of France, finished with Sel de Camargue. We wanted the flavour to also convey the spirit of the Cote d’Azur, most specifically conviviality, sharing, openness.
Can you tell us more about the distillery?
Roland: We are working with a family that has been distilling since 1850. They are located 15km west of Cognac. Why Cognac? Because Cognac region is not only known for making Cognac, the area is also well known for having some of the world's greatest know-how for making spirits. In addition, it is the heart of Copper Pot Still Distillation with an open flame.
Paul: It is traditional, family-run French distillery, run by open-minded distillation experts.
Can you tell us more about the distillation process?
Paul: The botanicals in Gin d'Azur are distilled separately using the copper pot still (Alambic Charentais). For each botanical we have designed a custom distillation profile (including temperature, cuts of foreshots and feints and pressure of gas) in order to capture the best aromatic compounds.
Can you tell us more about the botanicals in Gin d'Azur?
Paul: We are sourcing the ingredients from across the Provence region. The lavender is from the region of Alpes-de-hautes-Provence (Valensole, Manosque and Castellane) and the lemon is from Menton at the border between France and Italy.
Like a perfume it is not so much each ingredient that is important but the combination of each element in the right proportion to really give the feeling of being in the middle of “la garrigue” (scrubland in English). The main criteria for choosing the ingredients was the origin: they had to come from Provence (Côte d’Azur) and be typical of this region.
What has been your favourite part of the journey so far?
Paul: We created the gin to be shared by groups. The first bottle off the line was enjoyed by a group of 8 people - a mother, father, family and friends. Pure happiness and togetherness. The bottle was finished and it was a great evening.
How would you describe your gin in 3 words?
Roland: Wild, bright, groovy!
What's your favourite way to drink Gin d'Azur?
Roland: Neat with a big ice block and a slice of Yuzu.
Do you have any favourite gins at the moment (other than Gin d'Azur of course!)?
Roland: Mor Gin London Dry.
What's next - any exciting plans?
Paul: Building a rum distillery!