Big on Taste, Light on Calories

When it comes to how and why I created Minus 33, taste was the prominent thought. I wanted to create the best tasting spirit and was willing to stop at nothing to ensure we had the liquid just perfect. The taste was decided on after a year of creating countless recipes and running samples through a panel of spirit lovers.

The spirit they chose as their favourite was a 33% product – lighter than what you’d expect from a traditional spirit, but the lower alcohol level allowed the more subtle flavours (floral and citrus) to come to the fore and create a better tasting, fuller more rounded flavour.

When distilling we remove a lot more of the heads (the first section of liquid that comes off the still) than most – this removes some of the harsher alcohols and leaves a smoother spirit. In fact it is this method that lends to a smoother spirit than the lower alcohol itself.

In a lot of spirits sugar is used to help counteract the harsh burn the alcohol brings, a burn that is compounded by the presence of very dry, spicy botanicals (another traditional element we avoided on the advice of our expert panellists). Sugar on a molecular level binds with the tongue before the alcohol and therefore reduces the burn effect. On a large industrial scale, a concentrated form of sugar is used, as removing too many of the heads isn’t cost effective. Luckily for you we put taste ahead of the economics and spare no expense in creating the best tasting liquid we can.

Sugar is obviously very high in energy / calories but sweetness was a quality our gin loving crowds enjoyed in the liquid so to keep the process as natural as possible we looked to nature to find a botanical that could help us bring that sweet edge and we didn’t have to look far. Liquorice Root! – Now if you are anything like me, you hate liquorice – I for one can’t tand it, but liquorice root is completely different, much like sugar cane is it fairly hard but full of sweetness – the difference is liquorice is a natural sweetener and very low in calories as a result it was a perfect, natural way for us to add a sweet edge without having to add sugar.

The result was a great tasting spirit that was lower in energy. So why is that even significant!? Well after fat, alcohol is the second densest form of energy and as a result not very good for you. Lots of you enjoy a low calorie mixer but it is the alcohol you should really be worried about. So by reducing the alcohol content and by adding no sugar we created one of the lightest spirits on the market and the lightest spirit in the UK. At 46 calories a serve you’ll be hard pressed to find anything that tastes this good that isn’t as bad for you.

Compare it to a double measure of another spirit and you can save up to 33 calories. Not the largest victory, but still, every little helps, and it may just help you justify having that third helping at the end of a long week.

Big on Taste and Low on Calories – Minus 33, the best of both worlds.

Read more

What is Minus 33?

So this is the question I get asked the most, what is it!?!

“It looks trendy, a bit like a vodka but ‘Juniper Distilled Spirit’ implies it’s more like a gin…”

Well the answer is fairly simple and complex at the same time. The simple, legal, answer is it’s neither. We did things differently, we broke the rules and the result was a product that didn’t lie within the mundane and conventional.

In short though, the best description of Minus 33, is that it is a lower abv gin.

I spent a year working on a gin recipe in a lab, a friend of mine would sneak me in overnight and over a 12 hour session we’d churn out around 10 recipes. At the end of each week I’d run these recipes through our tasters and get their input and feedback before going back to the lab and refining the recipe further. The goal - create the best tasting spirit. (you can find out more about that journey here)

After a year of taste testing I discovered that spirit lovers, like you, enjoyed the flavour at a lower ABV, 33% to be exact. To be a ‘gin’ or any other core spirit, the minimum ABV must be 37.5% (according to EU law). Rather than compromise a recipe people told me they loved, we decided to keep the recipe as was. As a result we couldn’t legally call it gin, but in essence it is made using the same process.

What we found during this year of research was that the alcohol brought out the spicy notes and vice versa, the vast majority of drinkers, seemed to prefer the delicate flavours; the floral and citrus notes, and toning down the abv allowed these flavours to be better expressed. Rather than a heavy, spicy, punch up front, our spirit was lighter, smoother and more delicate, leading to a better rounded taste profile where each botanical came through. We even found vodka drinkers liked Minus 33 as it wasn’t as spicy as a traditional, old fashioned product.

The challenge then was what to call it? Luckily this isn’t the first time in the modern era that a new category of spirit has been created. Captain Morgan, commonly known as a ‘spiced rum’ is actually not one. If you examine a bottle closely you’ll see it is A Premium Spirit Drink with Caribbean Rum, Spice and other Natural Flavours. Having checked the rule book, we opted for Juniper Distilled Spirit, we felt this best reflected what our product was and allowed the knowledgeable gin lovers to associate Minus 33 with a spirit they enjoy.

So there you have it, Minus 33, a Juniper Distilled Spirit, smooth, delicious and you may even be able to convince your vodka drinking friends to come join us from the dark side!

Enjoy it as you would any other gin, with tonic, as a martini, it works exceptionally well in cocktails too (see here for some inspiration). Cheers!

Read more

Putting You First!

I was recently chosen as one of Scotland's 40 under 40 business people by SBNN

A great honour, and I was delighted to see a lot of friends on the list as well. Setting up a business isn't easy and you need to have some key values at your heart.  SBNN asked me to write a blog for them underlining a topic I am passionate about and of course customer service was at the top of my mind.

Since launch, I have made it our mission to ensure every customer is fully satisfied, whether that was hand delivering a bottle to the countryside when an order went astray - to doing our best to go the extra mile to say thank you to our repeat customers. I believe it is vital we work to ensure every time you buy a bottle from us, you receive a top quality service.

To that effect, if there is anything we can do better, any suggestions of improvements or whether you were not completely satisfied with your order, just get in touch.  All emails come straight to me and I'll do my best to get back to you quickly.

Anyway here is my blog for SBNN - hope you enjoy it!

The Customer is Always Right – How Consumer Engagement Created Minus 33

When I set out to create our first spirit, I knew two things:

  • It had to look great
  • It had to taste great

Now, both of these on the face of it seem like simple tasks but as with anything that is sensory, it is often subjective.  Therefore to appeal to as much of our target audience as possible we needed to be scientific in our approach.

I knew we couldn’t outsource this job to anyone, ‘ if you want a job done right, do it yourself’ so I set out to find a distiller who would help teach me the art of distilling and help us create the best tasting gin we could.  He would sneak me into a lab and we’d work on 10 recipes a night – at the end of each week we’d have 50 recipes that I’d take to customer panels to judge their feedback.  We did the same without label designs.  (We learnt quickly that our helpers provided more useful design criticism before they were allowed to sample the gin than they were afterwards).

And from each session, we’d return with notes on how to improve each element and after a year of this process, we came to the winning formula.  The only hiccup (pun intended) was they decided on a spirit at a 33% strength. As a result, we couldn’t legally call it gin!  Rather than compromise what consumers told us they enjoyed we kept it at that level and embraced the challenges that came with marketing a gin, that wasn’t a gin. 

There were some upsides though - the lower alcohol content and the absence of sugar in our recipe meant we had a lower calorie spirit and a smoother taste that allowed the lighter, more delicate notes, (the lavender, elderflower and citrus flavours in particular) to shine through leading to a better balance of flavour and a more rounded taste profile.

Since inception we have received rave reviews and continue to keep the consumer at the heart of everything we do, going out of our way to ensure they are happy.  The result a 5 star review on our Facebook page, growing sales on our website and the crowning two achievements a high score from the world’s leading gin blogger and a 19th place spot in the top 50 global spirit innovations of 2015. But I’d like to know what you think, so give it a go and let me know your thoughts.


Read more

Can low calorie taste better?

Can low calorie taste better? The simple answer is yes and we have proved it. At 46 calories per serving Minus 33 does not compromise on taste.
Read more