Interview with Stig Bareksten, creator of the Bareksten Gin Botanical
Interview with Stig Bareksten, creator of the Bareksten Gin Botanical:
«I wanted to create a gin that reflects the terroir»
My gin looks both stylish and quite dark. I wanted it to show the «dark side» of Norway, our Polar nights, deep darl forests. People in Norway are quite introvert, the neighbours often don’t say hello to each other. I must confess, that darkness fascinates me.
Besides gin, we also make absinth and akvavit. I am fascinated by the world of spirits.
For 86 years there have been a government monopoly in Norway on making alcohol. And just in 2005 it was open for private individuals. For me it turned out to be a great opportunity, because it is important to create a special style of alcohol that you can associate Norway with.
Norway is being promoted as a country of beautiful fjords and mountains. I think that not enough attention is given to the forests of Norway. And they are full of mystery, they have trolls living in there.
I wanted to break the cliches that people have now about Norway.
I’ve been creating the recipe of Gin Botanical for five years. Simultaneously this process became a process of study. Many different gins were created for the last years, and many of them were odd. As for me, I wanted to create a gin that reflects the terroir. In my gin I wanted to create the aromas that a person can smell when enters the Norwegian forest.
I love to work with botanicals. For Gin Botanical I use 26 different botanicals. 19 out of them grow in Bergen. Some of the botanicals that I use are juniper berries, Grains of Paradise, orange peel, blueberry, cowberry, elderberry, rhubarb and mint. The forest where we pick the botanicals is located just behind our distillery in Bergen.
The growing season for berries in Norway is short – short summer, cold nights. This all adds to botanicals their special flavours.
My gin is quite traditional, but it is made with modern methods. For the base instead of grain spirit I use potato spirit. Because of this, my gin is more creamy and full-bodied.
I macerate botanicals in a low-strength spirit. This is why gin aromas are closer to the natural aromas of botanicals. I use small columns for distillation, and distillation continues for a long time. For maceration I also use a basket where I put botanicals – mainly mint, rhubarb, lime and orange peel. Steam passes through this basket, where is takes on the aromas of botanicals, and then it is condensed.
As a result, we have a gin with a complex combination of aromas and flavours – woody, flowery, earthy, fruity. There is no single aroma that prevails and dominates, like it happens in many other gins.
After the spirits competition in San Francisco in 2017, people started to talk seriously about my gin. And up to this moment, Gin Botanical is the most awarded gin in the world. For just six months we have managed to establish export of our gin to 25 countries. I was happy to hear that many people in Moscow had already tried my gin during the exhibition in Berlin, it became recognisable.
The best way to drink my gin is to drink it neat. People who usually drink wine appreciate this the most.
Gin Botanical is dry, but it has some sweetness in taste, and it comes straight from the berries. Juniper berry is very complex, it combines pine flavours, citrus fruits and earthy flavours.
My gin is very diverse in tastes, and this makes it very friendly to many different cocktails. If you want to emphasise a citrus note in your cocktail, you can simply add an orange zest. Mint – if you want to emphasise this side. And so on to infinity.