We caught up with James Oag-Cooper of Foxhole Spirits, the man behind a Gin that drew inspiration from the by product of creating the now ever-present English wine.
The Foxhole Gin project started back in October 2014 when James was working at The Bolney Wine Estate in Sussex. He says that during the grape harvest that year he and Sam Linter (Head Winemaker at the Estate) discussed what could be achieved with the so called redundant grape waste. “We had both independently been thinking about what could be done with the surplus grape material, and realised that we could work on the idea together. We decide to create a Gin following the decision to distil the by-product wine, mostly due to our love for the category. We realised that nobody else had made a Gin from English grapes, wondered whether it could be done, and decided to take on the challenge”. A smart move indeed as consumers now value highly sustainable production, traceability of raw materials and this has seen Foxhole Gin win many awards to date.
For a straight G&T we took James’ advice and used the zest from pink grapefruit; quite a serving suggestion as it works beautifully with the bitter orange botanical. This comes through right on the finish, with the grapefruit sweetening it and giving incredible length. A sprig of rosemary adds complexity and helps to draw out the aromatics from the grape spirit. It really is exceptionally smooth.
On the topic of botanicals, we asked James to explain how he chose those best to match the grape spirit. “We went through significant amounts of recipe development, using all kinds of different botanicals and recipes. We ended up settling on a fairly traditional botanical recipe as it became clear to us that the flavour characteristics that were most unique and delicious were those that come directly from the grape spirit. Our recipe allows these characteristics to shine through in the final gin, without something else taking over”. It seems that choosing sympathetic botanicals has paid off as the classic juniper is ever present amongst tones of zesty citrus.
A question that is commonly asked in the ever-booming gin industry is, are there too many gins on the market? James was pretty forthright. “Never too many, but certainly a lot! We are uniquely positioned as a spirits company committed to our vision of creating unique, premium quality spirits with a focus on using otherwise unused resources, promoting sustainability and creativity within the drinks industry. The competition just drives us to create better and better products”. A fairly stock response you might think, but perhaps one that holds true as James clearly values the need to always improve and reduce waste.
So, a brand with one product, surely another on the horizon? “We are working really hard on our second product, but I cannot reveal any more about this for now”. Whatever the next product we’re sure it will tell a story much like the former.
Lastly, and we always like to ask this, what does James like to drink other than his own brand of gin? “We’re big fans of Garden Swift (formally Garden Tiger) by Capreolus Distillery”.
In our opinion, although Foxhole Gin is at the high price range of products on the market, we feel the quality and story behind it justifies the cost. Afterall, a sustainable process which reduces waste and creates a beautifully smooth gin must be worth the money.
To purchase Foxhole Gin please click here