In the few short months since its first release, New Zealand’s own super premium Lighthouse Gin is exceeding expectations – and it may well be the uniquely Kiwi twist to the classic formula that is putting it at the top of many discerning gin connoisseurs’ lists.
Produced by Greytown Fine Distillates in the Wairarapa, Lighthouse Gin is the culmination of several years of research and is quite distinguished from its English and American counterparts.
Distillers James Graham and Neil Catherall say that while the predominant flavour and aroma of a modern distilled dry gin will always come from juniper and coriander, the great challenge for any distiller is to select and blend a variety of additional, exotic botanicals to impart a unique flavour.
“For Lighthouse, we took pleasure in researching and experimenting with many botanicals; among those finally selected after years of trial, are the dried leaves from the unique New Zealand botanical Kawakawa, together with the fresh zest of New Zealand grown navel oranges and yen ben lemons, the intense-flavoured descendant of the famous Lisbon lemon,” says Mr Graham.
“These components lend herbal and citrus notes to the gin, clearly distinguishing it from its international counterparts.”
Handcrafted and hand distilled, Lighthouse Gin is painstakingly double batch distilled in a copper pot still to ensure concentration and purity of flavour, delivering a refreshing clear clean finish.
The vein of innovation runs throughout the Lighthouse Gin story, with the 200-litre copper still being designed by Distiller Neil Catherall and specially built by local craftsmen in Masterton.
Mr Catherall says that while the final formula of Lighthouse Gin must remain a secret, he believes they have achieved a distinctive and complex gin that is smooth, fresh and combines herbal, citrus and spicy characteristics with a subtle delicacy.
“The double distillation process is costly and time-consuming but results in a softer, more refined, and more approachable spirit,” he says.
“Some are saying this may be the best kept secret in the gin world. Gin lovers who haven’t yet tried Lighthouse are really missing out on something that is truly unique – and very importantly home grown.”