New distillery launches Cornish pastis and gin

cornish pastis tarquins ginThe new Southwestern Distillery in Cornwall has launched the UK’s first pastis, made with gorse flowers foraged from Cornish clifftops, and a gin using locally grown violets.

Made in a flame-fired copper pot still near Padstow, Cornish Pastis and Tarquin’s Gin have been developed by Tarquin Leadbetter who gave up a City job to pursue his dream of making his own spirits.

Drawing on his earlier training as a chef, including studying at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school, he used fruits, herbs and spices to create the new products.

Tarquin’s Gin is made predominantly with juniper berries but is steeped with other botanicals including Devon violets grown in Tarquin’s garden. Others are coriander seeds, lemon zest, orange zest, grapefruit zest, orris root, angelica, liquorice, green cardamom, cinnamon and bitter almond.

The dry, creamy gin has an ABV of 42% and is already stocked in bars and restaurants such as Nathan Outlaw in Rock, Fifteen Cornwall and the Gurnard’s Head in St Ives.

Cornish Pastis is also made with liquorice, coriander, lemon zest, orange zest, grapefruit zest, orris root, angelica, juniper berries, green cardamom and cinnamon. The spirit is also steeped with green aniseed, star anise and gorse flowers from Cornish clifftops.

Also with ABV of 42%, it is available in bars and restaurants such as the Gurnard’s Head and The Old Coastguard in Penzance.

Tarquin said: “I wanted to create something from scratch that I could touch, taste and enjoy. Being able to leave London and return to the region where I grew up was another significant factor in the life-changing transition.

“I’d followed the growing popularity of boutique distilleries and just knew that was what I wanted to do. Essentially, I have combined my love for fantastic ingredients with the south-west to make great-tasting spirits made with integrity.”

To make the gin and pastis, the botanicals are placed in the copper pot still overnight in pure wheat spirit before being fired to temperature the next day. An eight-hour distillation extracts just the right amount of essential oils to create delicately perfumed spirits.

It uses one-shot distillation, which means exactly the right amount of botanicals are used in each run to make an entirely finished spirit, rather than a concentrate.

After a few days of rest, the spirit is diluted to 42% ABV with local spring water and then bottled by hand – all on site at the microdistillery. Only 300 bottles are made in each batch, sometimes fewer, with the qualities of each batch described on every bottle.

The pastis is made in the same way, but finished with a little more liquorice root before bottling.

On the nose, Tarquin’s Gin is fresh with crisp juniper and floral orange, supported by a warm, aromatic spice. The taste is very clean and vibrant with a deliciously dry finish, making it perfect for a gin and tonic or a Dry Martini.

Cornish Pastis has aromas of bright anise, earthy liquorice and fresh orange. It is silky smooth, and refreshingly dry on the palate as there is no added sugar. It is best served with chilled mineral water or can be mixed in cocktails.

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