Odd Spirits: Anty Gin

Gin is usually a pretty safe bet; while distilleries vary on the amount of botanicals used, there is a general consensus of what a gin should ultimately be made of. That has completely been upended with Anty Gin, a product that doesn’t seem to be even possible.

Anty Gin is a a joint venture between experimental Copenhagen-based Nordic Food Lab and the world’s first gin tailor, The Cambridge Distillery. The gin is actually based off of a naturally occurring acid from the red wood ant.

Red wood ants, are found in forests around the Northern Hemisphere, and are inspiringly sophisticated creatures. They communicate using a host of chemical pheromones, which allow them to form immense colonies housed in large mounds, and they defend their complex communities by producing formic acid in their abdomens and spraying it in the direction of any invader. It’s this formic acid that is used in Anty Gin, as it is a very reactive compound in alcohol.

Anyone that has tried ants in various food dishes will say that there is are a number of complex flavours involved. Often there is a strong citrus profile, along with other tastes like lemongrass. If you think about gin, those flavours work awfully well with traditional gin ingredients.

Each bottle of Anty Gin contains the essence of approximately sixty-two wood ants. To support the distinctive flavour of the wood ant distillate and the characteristics of Bulgarian juniper berries, the team selects just a handful of prime-quality, wild springtime botanicals to add complexity to the final blend: wood avens (Geum urbanum), nettle (Urtica dioica), and alexanders seed (Smyrnium olusatrum). In order to ensure exceptional quality of base alcohol, only 100% organic grown English wheat has been used for the spirit, and every distillation is carried out just one litre a time.

The surprising this is, Anty Gin seems to be a VERY hot commodity. The first commercial batch of Anty Gin produced only ninety-nine bottles, and sold out quickly. Subsequent batches have sold out just as fast. Each bottle of Anty Gin comes with a 50 ml bottle of pure wood ant distillate, so drinkers can taste the total profile of the distillate outside of the gin itself.

This type of innovation doesn’t come cheap. Due to the labour intensive process, and the fact that each batch has been limited to only 99 bottles, each bottle of Any Gin is priced at well over USD$300. If you’re interested, you’ll have to grab this outside of North America, as the Cambridge Distilling shop isn’t able to ship to North America.

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