Grand Nez distillery has become one of the few gin makers in the world to use fungi as a flavour. The French distiller has added summer truffles from the Gers to its new drink which sells at €48.
Truffle is sliced and added to the gin – a triple distilled spirit. The gin also contains local yellow apples, pepper from Java and Madagascan vanilla. The innovative blend has proved to be quite the success with 1,000 of the 1,300 €48 bottles sold within a matter of weeks.
Anne-Hélène Vialaneix, who set up the distillery with her partner Eric Lugas in 2019, said:
“Most of our clients said they drank it as liqueur after the meal – it is surprisingly sweet with the vanilla and the surprising hazelnut and butter taste from the truffle.”
“We found black truffles lost most of their odour when they were added to alcohol, which is why we chose the summer truffles,”
“The truffles make the gin an amber colour, which probably helps with the idea people have that it is a digestive.”
The distillery is no stranger to success, it’s London dry gins previously won medals at the World Gin Awards.
Containing camomile and kiwi, Attribut No1 won a silver medal. Attribut No2, with iris roots and ginger, got a gold. Both bottles retail at €38
Ms Vialaneix said that French people don’t have a tradition of drinking gin, but this is changing, as artisanal gins arrive from the UK and other parts of the world.
“Before Covid, people travelled and saw the great increase in the range of gins which were available. It is a market which is growing.”
The distillery uses an adapted still from Cognac instead of the more usual column stills, and has started a project to try to grow its own organic juniper berries, a key gin ingredient.
“They grow well in France but it’s frustrating trying to find them,”
“We are partnering with a local agricultural college to see if we can set up a system to produce them commercially, both for us but also for other bio gin-makers.
“We have a special tool made for a vine tractor to do the groundwork, and we are trying to shape the juniper bushes into tree shapes which will make mechanical harvesting easier, like they do with olives.
“Trying to pick commercially by hand will just be too slow and expensive.”
Another famous fungus from the southwest, the cep, unlike the truffle is unlikely to find its way into the gin bottle soon. “Getting its flavour and perfume carried in alcoholic spirit is too hard, but we are always experimenting,” said Ms Vialaneix.
For more information, head over to Grand Nez’s official website.