A joint venture between experimental Copenhagen-based Nordic Food Lab and the world’s first gin tailor, The Cambridge Distillery, has introduced a new and somewhat different gin to the market. Now officially recognised as the world’s most innovative alcoholic beverage!
Formica rufa, the red wood ant, are found in forests around the Northern Hemisphere, and are inspiringly sophisticated creatures. They communicate using a host of chemical pheromones, which allow them to form immense colonies housed in large mounds, and they defend their complex communities by producing formic acid in their abdomens and spraying it in the direction of any invader. Luckily for us, these very compounds hold great delicious potential. Formic acid (the simplest organic carboxylic acid, with the chemical formula HCOOH) is a very reactive compound in alcohol, serving as an agent for producing various aromatic esters. Furthermore, many of their chemical pheromones are the same volatile molecules, which we perceive as aroma. Through distillation of these wood ants, we can explore the tasty universe of these naturally occurring molecules and reactions, capturing the flavours of this fascinating species.
Over six thousand Formica rufa have been foraged and preserved by Forager, a team of wild plant specialists led by Miles Irving in the forests of Kent, UK. Each bottle of Anty Gin contains the essence of approximately sixty-two wood ants. To support the distinctive flavour of the wood ant distillate and the characteristics of Bulgarian juniper berries, we have selected a handful of prime-quality, wild springtime botanicals to add complexity to the final blend: wood avens (Geum urbanum), nettle (Urtica dioica), and alexanders seed (Smyrnium olusatrum). In order to ensure exceptional quality of base alcohol, only 100% organic grown English wheat has been used for the spirit, and every distillation is carried out just one litre a time.
The first commercial batch of Anty Gin produced only ninety-nine bottles, and sold out quickly. Subsequent batches have sold out just as fast, so keep a close eye on our online store for availability.
From foraging to bottling and labelling by hand with The Cambridge Distillery’s 1924 typewriter, every step of the process has been done with a dedication to craft. And to share our excitement for the unique flavour of the Formica rufa, each bottle of Anty Gin will come with a 50 ml bottle of pure wood ant distillate. We recommend you try this distillate before trying the gin, to familiarise yourself with this special anty flavour.
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