Discover the key ingredients of worlds first vanilla gin

Coming from the island of Réunion, vanilla capital of the world, I take my botanicals very seriously. They are presents of Mother Nature, aren’t they? Carefully combined, six of them give my rebellious spirit its unusual character: vanilla (obviously), juniper, angelica root, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon. Let me introduce you to the true stars of Sir Edmond Gin.

Vanilla lends my spirit its adventurous soul. If it wasn’t for Réunion born Mr Edmond Albius, my namesake and inspiration, vanilla might have never become such a beloved flavouring. And sweet mother of birds, what a treat it is! Not only does vanilla make my gin change colour, it’s also responsible for the unusual, smooth and refined taste you’re in for. The legacy of Edmond Albius lives on.

Juniper is at the heart of Sir Edmond Gin – and of gin and its Dutch predecessor jenever in general. The aromatic ‘berries’ of the juniper tree aren’t actual berries, but fleshy seed cones. Mine are from Macedonia, the world’s primary producer. In autumn, the berries ripen as their green skin turns purple. The juniper is harvested, I kid you not, by beating the trees with a stick. The berries fall, are gathered, get sorted, and – deo volente – end up in your glass.

Angelica root likes it cold and damp; it prefers growing near water. Above Greenland ground the ‘angelica archangelica’ is already a rather charming plant, but the real magic happens in the soil. Originally grown for it’s nutritious and medicinal capacities, the sweetly scented angelica root came to be a favourite among gin makers. I’m proud to be one of them.

Cardamom is a strong, fragrant spice made from the small black seeds of plants from the Zingiberaceae family. Or in understandable English: the ginger family. Native to India, cardamom is still being cultivated in large parts of Asia, but today’s biggest producer is Guatemala. As a matter of fact, that’s where I flew to get my feathers on it. Cardamom doesn’t come cheap: in price per weight it’s only surpassed by saffron and, of course, vanilla.

Ginger could be called cardamom’s outrageously popular cousin. Like with angelica root, it’s what’s going on underground that counts. Ginger root makes up for it’s slightly deformed appearance (sorry, ginger) by being a spice famous for it’s versatility. It was one of the first to be shipped from the Orient to Europe, but is currently cultivated as far out as Nigeria. I like to think different, so guess where mine is from…

Cinnamon was imported to Egypt as early as 2000 BCE, but up until the Middle Ages, the source of the sweet spice remained a mystery to Europeans. In the 1500s, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan found it in the Philippines. A century later, the Dutch East India Company made the trade blossom like never before. Cinnamon is essentially the inner bark of a tree – hence the funny shape. Add a stick to your Sir Edmond Gin & Tonic and float off to the Chinese cinnamon heaven that produced this oriental delicacy.