The gin revival is in full swing. Once regarded as the spirit for running mothers, gin is now enjoying the major comeback that vodka did some years ago. Across the UK, drinkers, bars and shops are stocking more gin than they ever previously did and bars dedicated to this wonderful spirit are popping up all over the place. No longer for ruinous mothers and old ladies, the main drivers of the revival are the 20 and 30 somethings with the enthusiasm for small batch premium spirits and artisanal technique. Daffy’s joined that group at the end of last year when they launched their classic London Dry Gin, but there’s something a bit different going on.
Daffy’s Gin – Daffysgin.com
We’re sitting down with Chris Molyneaux, MD and Master Distiller of Daffy’s and we’re talking all about gin. And food, and cocktails, and festivals, and mixologist competition and how some of the best bars in London, Edinburgh and New York are serving this new gin that’s garnering praise from across the industry. Not bad for a brand launched less than six months ago.
I’m getting a little ahead of myself here though, so let’s head back a few months to the end of 2014. It’s early December in 56 North (2-8 West Crosscauseway, EH8) – a bar renowned for having the biggest selection of gins in Scotland, and featured in our Edinburgh Gin Drinking Guide last summer – and Daffy’s is on sale for the first time. It’s a hit.
It’s taken 4 years to get to this point though. Having spent time in France making wine, Chris learnt distilling for grappa, but after a time and some travelling he had set his sights on making a classic London Dry Gin. But not just ‘another’ gin, a special one. One that was as recognisably Scottish as whiskies are, but also as amazing in a G&T as it cocktails, paired with food or simply drunk on its own. Put in those terms, it’s amazing it only took four years.
It wasn’t all plain sailing, Chris admits that some of the recipes and botanicals he tried didn’t work. Gorse made it taste like coconut (who would have thought?), heather was too floral and milk thistle, well that just didn’t work at all.
The product of all that experimentation is Daffy’s. A gin made from eight botanicals that is both unique and a genuinely classic London dry. Served on ice or as a G&T (1 part gin to two parts tonic, he recommends); it’s gone pretty far in its first 4 and a half months and can now be found in some of the best bars in London and a few in New York, as well as some more a little closer to home. From 56 North to The Jolly Botanist, it’s featuring in an increasing number of Edinburgh’s gin and cocktail bars – including Sygn where it’s currently in their cocktail of the month – the Motor City Duck Ensemble.
What’s possibly more exciting is the competition running very soon (Monday 27th April) to find the next core serve. Something simple but delicious, manageable to make in busy bars and by people at home, the brief is seemingly simple. But the competition – which is taking place at The Jolly Botanist (260 Morrison Street, EH3) – is anything but. It’s an invite-only competition that will see twelve mixologists from across the city compete in three rounds being judged by a pretty esteemed panel (including the F&D Editor of The List, Head Sommelier of 21212, Restaurant Manager at Castle Terrace, amongst others).
Taking part will be some of Edinburgh’s most recognisable bars. Panda & Sons, 56 North, The Devil’s Advocate, Tonic, The Boozy Cow – basically, what we’re saying is that it’s not an event to be missed out on. You can find more information here.
With a new core serve and two 5,000 bottle batches of Daffy’s soon to be completed, I suspect we will be seeing a lot more of Daffy’s in the coming months – although most of the plans are currently in the ‘top secret, but we’re really excited about it‘ stage, according to Chris. We do know a few things though. The Official Gin of Hidden Door Festival (an arts festival that will celebrate one of Edinburgh’s amazing venues with a line up that includes everything from visual arts to dance and cinema) will keep them busy in May, with an appearance at Scottish Juniper Festival (our amazing gin festival at Summerhall in June – which Edinburgh Editor has exciting news about soon, watch this space) in June not long after. After that Chris is keeping his cards close to his chest, but I mentioned August, the Fringe and the EIF and a little smile appeared. So it’s unconfirmed, but I would guess we’ll be in for a gin-tastic treat.
I rounded my chat off with Chris by talking about their unique bottle design – Daffy, the goddess of gin. Their bottle is special enough in its own right, let alone what goes in it. The glass is from Milan, the cork is Portuguese as is the beech for the bottle top – but what makes it truly stand out is the image on the front.
Born from the Dickensian slang for gin, and a friend harking back to this, toasting ‘The Goddess of Gin’, Daffy’s became a personal choice for the name, but to bring the idea to life it required an image to go with it. Chris got in touch with world-renowned illustrator Robert McGinnis asking if he’d bring this goddess to life – if you don’t ask, you can’t hope to get. The artist behind posters for films like You Only Live Twice and Live and Let Die, from the Bond franchise, and the unforgettable poster for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Chris expected (at best) to get a polite rebuttal. What he got was a yes. Then 14 different versions of Daffy, then a process than whittled it down to the iconic image you seen on the bottle – and an incredible story to go with it. Oh, and a bit of a headache for the printers, as there are 13 different colours involved (more than any other known bottle) in the screen printing that goes on to each individual bottle.
Talking to Chris made me want to sit in the bar and just drink gin and gin cocktails all afternoon (sadly it was a Thursday lunchtime, and apparently such things are frowned upon in my office), but I left excited about trying Daffy’s again, and discovering what cocktails across the city, and beyond, are transforming it in to. We’ll be heading along to the competition at The Jolly Botanist on the 27th, and completely looking forward to tasting this delicious gin again many times over the summer.
Win a bottle of Daffy’s
Want to get your hands on a bottle of Daffy’s? You can either buy a bottle on their website or, better still, enter our competition! Daffy’s have kindly given Edinburgh Editor a bottle of their delicious gin to give away – enter our competition here.