Combining the Italian flair for la dolce vita with an unwavering commitment to organic principles, the arrival of Biostilla Organic Gin marks the first time a certified-organic premium gin has been available on local shelves. What’s more, it’s introducing local palates to the growing number of artisanal gins produced in Italy.
And while the trend towards premium gin has swept around the world, Italian producers have kept a low profile.
“But Italians have centuries of experiences in distillation; from producing their world-famous grappa and fruit-based eaux de vie to the digestifs known as amaro,” explains Giuliana Abrahamse, Marketing and Operations Director for Profumi D’Italia Marketing. Family-owned and operated, for the past 12 years Profumi D’Italia has sourced and selected the finest Italian products for import into the South African market.
In 2016, a chance meeting at the Vinitaly wine and spirits expo introduced the company to the remarkable Biostilla Organic Gin from Walcher Estates Distillery.
“We have watched the increasing popularity of gin, and were looking for a suitable Italian product to include in our range,” explains Giuliana. “What immediately stood out for me when I tasted the Biostilla is that the quality of the product is just superb. It’s a smooth, premium sipping gin.”
But Profumi d’Italia is meticulous about the provenance of the products in their portfolio, “so we went to meet the family and inspect the site,” adds Giuliana. “I wanted to see where it is produced, and to know that the product we’re bringing in is of the highest quality.”
That led Giuliana along the poetically named La Strada del Vino (The Road of Wine) that wends its way high into the Italian Alps in the region of South Tyrol. Bordered by Austria to the north and east, and Switzerland to the west, the area has long been famous for its eaux de vie fruit brandies, with the bountiful mountain orchards producing superlative ingredients for the region’s skilled distillers.
Beyond the tiny hamlet of Turmbach lies the Walcher distillery where, for nine generations, the family has been perfecting the art of distilling award-winning eaux de vie. Now, with a global thirst for gin, the master distillers have turned their hand to crafting premium organic gin.
That organic journey begins with the creation of a neutral alcohol distilled from certified-organic wheat. This base alcohol is then re-distilled with carefully selected botanicals, and with the distillery surrounded by dramatic mountain scenery it made perfect sense for the aromatics of the Biostilla Organic Gin to draw inspiration from the surrounding hillsides.
That began with the inclusion of wild juniper to imbue the organic gin with a classic London Dry profile. On that foundation the distillers infused an Alpine meadow of botanicals: coriander seed for spice and citrus notes, orris root for texture and depth, and elderflower for freshness and perfume. The final flourish is the inclusion of the flowering tops of clary sage (Salvia sclarea), a plant native to the northern Mediterranean and long used in traditional herbal remedies.
The result? A premium gin crafted in the sought-after style of a London Dry, with the intriguing complexity of Mediterranean botanicals. On the nose expect a delicate whisper of the juniper, with a palate of sweet juniper, citrus and floral notes giving way to a pleasing hint of bitterness in a lingering finish.
“In terms of flavour profile the Biostilla Organic Gin is entirely unique,” says Giuliana, who recommends it enjoyed over ice as a sipping gin, or with a small splash of premium tonic. “With all the botanicals sourced from the Italian Alps, it’s a real taste of South Tyrol!”