Crafting Minus 33 has been an unconventional process, and we're not even sorry.
The journey to create a low calorie spirit that didn’t compromise on taste and quality started in a lab and involved a year of research to identify the perfect botanical recipe.
Using a traditional copper still, we work with each individual botanical to extract the maximum amount of flavour. Starting with a base of 96% (ABV) grain neutral spirit (GNS) we discovered that macerating fragrant coriander seeds, sweet liquorice root, orris root and dry angelica gives the best result. These ingredients are then left to steep for 24 hours so that the alcohol can break down the compounds and release a heady mix of flavour.
The next step involves preparation of the gin head, a basket suspended over the liquid in the still that contains a combination of delicate botanicals including lavender, elderflower, orange and lemon. The alcohol vapours interact with these ingredients as they rise inside the still and carry each ounce of flavour with them.
In the final stage of preparation, crushed juniper berries are added to macerated liquid in the still, the GNS is reduced to 50% using UV treated water from a natural underground spring that runs beneath the distillery.
Every effort has been made to ensure distillation of Minus 33 is a sustainable process. The water used is heated by a fire wood boiler that was recycled from an old steam engine and the wood used as fuel comes from a sustainable, local source.
As the liquid heats up, vapour rises through the copper still, carrying the botanical flavour with it. The vapour passes through the rectifying column where it is condensed for re-distil.
Once through the rectifying column, the vapour passes through to the condenser where it is cooled and returned to liquid form. During this part of the process, we remove the ‘heads and tails’ a not so tasty combination of bland and bitter flavouring leaving a smooth liquid that is rested before it is ready to be bottled.
Minus 33 is hand bottled meaning each bottle is filled and labelled by hand. Although a slow process that takes several days, we believe it guarantees the quality of each and every bottle.
Part of our unique distillation process involves stripping the flavour from each botanical. The oils that add flavour and smell to the liquid is evaporated but the colour of each botanical is left behind which is why the spirit always comes out clear.
As each oil has a different boiling temperature, it is actually possible to taste each note as it comes through into the resting tanks - lemon, orange, juniper can all be tasted at different moments.
Waste Not, Want Not
From the recycled, sustainable fuel powered boiler used to power distillation, to our leftovers, we try and be as eco-friendly as possible so nothing goes to waste. Heads and tails are find new lives as rubbing alcohol and even the carpels (the insides of the fruit) are used.
We feed the oranges from our recipe to Aberdeen Angus show cows that live on the distillery site (they love them). And the lemons are turned into juice for use in delicious Minus 33 cocktails!