The Teasmith Gin, created by Nick and Emma Smalley, has been released from Perthshire's Strathearn distillery and is claimed to be the first gin distilled with hand-picked tea.
(However, it is not the first to infuse tea in a gin. Beefeater 24, for example, is made from 12 botanicals including Japanese Sencha and Chinese Green teas. Ed)
The gin was distilled in Strathearn distillery and a limited first batch of 560 bottles went on sale just before Christmas. More bottles will be produced early this year as Nick and Emma aim to expand across the UK as well as internationally.
Having witnessed the gin renaissance, the couple wanted to create a premium gin using botanicals associated with Aberdeenshire, and discovered the nearby Newburgh estuary was once a thriving trading port, with tea being one of its biggest imports.
Nick Smalley says: “Some of the world’s most notable tea-clippers were built in Aberdeen harbour, some of which played a major role in opening up the important tea trade routes with the Far East.
Nick adds: “But it was the story of a young man from Auchenblae, Aberdeenshire, who founded the first tea plantation in Sri Lanka in 1867 that intrigued us the most. James Taylor, known as the ‘Father of Ceylon Tea’, transformed the island into one of the finest tea growing regions in the world. This little known tale really affirmed our decision to use tea as one of our key botanicals.”
After identifying their trademark ingredient, Nick and Emma worked with tea consultant Beverly-Claire Wainwright to source tea from Sri Lanka, a hand-rolled tea from Amba Estate.
Production of the tea is small and made entirely by hand without machinery.
The black loose leaf Ceylon tea is distilled by itself to capture its flavour and is blended with a classic gin recipe featuring juniper, coriander, citrus peels and other carefully selected botanicals which have been double-distilled in traditional copper alembic stills.
Emma Smalley says: “It was the first time the distillery had used tea as a botanical so it was a real step into the unknown. The result is in the taste, a sweetness, like that of a high quality tea, with a subtle essence of mint.
“However, the gin doesn’t actually taste like tea - the tea leaves give a unique taste that is light on the palate with a distinct, crisp freshness, one of a kind really. So anyone who doesn’t like tea shouldn’t be put off!
“We’re planning to expand the Teasmith product range to further explore the unique flavours these specialty teas can truly offer.”
Nick and Emma have also worked with local design studio, FortyTwo Studio, to create a exclusive brand with a distinctive concept and bottle design.
Nick adds: “We have invested significant time and creativity into forming The Teasmith brand and a bottle design that we are immensely proud of. This is a personal passion of ours where we hope to maximise initial demand and produce exceptional infusions to intrigue and grow our customer base and distribution.”
A 70cl bottle retails at £37.50 and is also available at selected retailers in Aberdeenshire and www.teasmithgin.com
11 January 2017 - Sam Coyne The Drinks Report, editorial assistant