The Gin Bandits
Zeiver Gin review and Q&A
This review has not been influenced by anyone at Zeiver, the views are our own, and we have not been paid for this post.
When we first saw Zeiver Gin, the bottle and label design immediately caught our eye - there’s something about the colours black and white together that work so well. The team behind Zeiver Gin are James Bilson and Clayton Patterson - they teamed up with Dr John Walters from the The English Spirit Distillery in our home county of Essex to distil their unique gin.
Upon checking the recipe we were surprised to see that it features such a complex range of botanicals, along with a base spirit made from polished rice from Japan. The botanicals include peach, pistachio, aloe vera, macadamia nut, cherry, lime, grapefruit, apple and of course juniper. We were slightly concerned that it might be a sweet, sickly gin, and maybe it could be a gimmick, but the Zeiver team proved us wrong. They’ve produced a gin which is just as we hoped it would be, and really we should have known from our experience of other gin’s coming out of Dr John’s distillery, that this was going to be an excellent gin.
The gin itself is a far cry from what we expected, and that’s in a good way. The flavours are complex, but the most important thing for us is that they’ve created a gin which is a proper gin, and a mighty fine one too. At 47% ABV it’s punchy and will stand up well in many different cocktails. To drink neat is a joy too, it’s smooth with bright citrus notes and subtle fruity undertones. But for us, it’s the finish that is the star of the show. It almost has a dark chocolatey feel to it, with a nice velvety, creamy finish. It’s superb.
As a G&T we tried many different tonics, to find the style of G&T we liked and we found it to be delicious with Hibiscus Merchant’s Heart tonic with some sliced apple, and also nice with a light tonic and some grapefruit peel.
As always, we love to catch up with the team behind the brands we review and put some questions to them. So below you can read our Q&A with Zeiver Gin.
Can you tell us a bit more about the team behind Zeiver Gin? What did you guys do before gin, and how did you end up getting involved in the spirits industry?
Zeiver is Clayton Patterson and James Bilson. Before getting involved with gin, we have been involved in other businesses ranging from education, finance, fashion and the automotive industry. Although it had not occurred to us until recently to start a gin company, when taking to account our simultaneous passion for enterprise and love of gin, starting Zeiver made perfect sense.
Wow, such a diverse range of experience. Where are you guys based now?
We are currently based in the UK and Japan.
One thing that really stands out, and that we really liked is the branding. You’ve kept the label simple, but also it’s slightly geometric which is really eye-catching. Who came up with the design?
There were a lot of elements that came together to bring the design alive. The Z Logo was designed by Clayton. After deciding on either a black on white design or a white on black design, we both decided to create a double-label concept. The goal was to give the individual freedom to choose his or her preferred colour while ensuring high visibility in the bar regardless of what bottles it was next to.
It works really well. Another thing that jumps out is the range of botanicals in your recipe. Usually you see the more commonly known botanicals used in gin, but Zeiver Gin has introduced us to some which you rarely see used, such as pistachio, peach, cherry and aloe vera. Tell us how you came up with the recipe?
Good old-fashioned trial and error. We knew that we wanted to approach Zeiver from a completely different angle. We also were adamant about getting away from typical botanicals found in nearly every gin on the market; ie: coriander, angelica root, etc. Before we ever started distilling, we had done extensive research with flavour profiles, sampled other people’s gin, and we had compiled massive lists of the botanicals we liked. In the early days, we had compiled a list of nearly 50 botanical candidates. From that list, we started to experiment, eliminating the botanicals that didn’t “play nice” with others, and pairing others with suitable matches. In the end only 9 (including Juniper) made the cut.
Again, doing things a little different, you’ve opted to use a base spirit using polished rice. Whose idea was this?
Since we had met in Asia and had experienced the incredible smoothness of Japanese spirits, we recognised that using polished rice was the way to go. Utilising a bespoke base spirit made from polished rice would allow us to create an exceptionally smooth gin, even at 47% ABV. In fact, it was so creamy that we originally started at 42%, but we got complaints that it was too smooth!
Tell us about the partnership with Dr John Walters at The English Spirit Distillery. How did you first link up with John and how long did it take for you all to agree on the final output?
It took months and months to find a master distiller we would trust with our product. After selecting John, it took an additional 3 months to refine our recipe and market test. All in all, nearly half a year on just this area alone.
Our immediate thoughts when we saw the botanicals was that it might be a sweet gin, and we were very pleased that although you’ve picked some fruity botanicals, it really is still a proper gin. It has a high ABV at 47%, but it’s nice and smooth with a velvety, creamy finish. Everyone picks up different flavours, but Mr Bandit picks up a dark chocolate element to it which he really loved. Was it always the plan to go punchy with the ABV?
It was our goal from the beginning to be punchy with the ABV. With gin to tonic ratio's ever moving to 1-to-1 ratio we saw that gin drinkers have a tendency to up the ante to get more gin flavor. We aimed to have it be perfectly smooth enough to drink neat while strong enough to hold its shape when mixed.
Can you tell us a bit about the distillation process, and how much fun you guys had during the initial tastings?
Distilling is a lot of fun, but a lot of work. Our initial prototype testing was done in the dead of summer with zero A/C. We would often do our “runs” near midnight, one because we both had full-time responsibilities during the day, and two, it was the coolest time of day. Throughout the distillation process, we made many odd and in some cases foul batches. Some attempts were too sweet, too spicy, others had too much citrus, while others lacked balance. But in the end we found one combination that we both knew was unique and delicious.
So, you’ve only just launched in March in the UK, and I saw plans to launch in Japan. What’s the reception been like since your launch? We know it must have come at a difficult time, what with the current COVID-19 crisis at the moment
Zeiver has been incredibly well-received. We have been so humbled and blessed by the responses. COVID has impacted everyone and we are no exception. Although bars are closed at the moment, we know eventually things will be up and running. For now, we are finding ways to connect with Zeiver drinkers online while maintaining a patient and a positive mindset. As James Allen says quite correctly, “Circumstance does not make the man, it reveals him”.
Throughout your journey from start to finish. What has been your biggest learning point or achievement, and what have you found most difficult?
Be flexible and be patient. Things always cost more and take longer than you plan, and that’s so true with us.
You must have drank a lot of Zeiver Gin in different ways. What is your favourite way to drink it as a cocktail and also your perfect serve for a G&T?
Oh, we love how versatile Zeiver is but it makes recommendations a bit hard to narrow down. For G&T’s, anything natural and low in sugar (anything from Twelve Below will work amazingly well) while garnishing with apricot, grapefruit, or apple. We highly recommend Zeiver with a classic martini or a negroni. Lastly, and most importantly for our followers. Where can they pick up a bottle of Zeiver Gin to try themselves?
If you want to pick up a bottle, please visit The Gin Stall - HERE
Thanks for your time guys, it’s been great speaking to you and we want to wish you every success with the gin.
You can follow Zeiver Gin on Social Media using the below links
Facebook - Here
Instagram - Here
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