Wildlife photographer Tessa Wienker works for Space for Elephants Foundation, a far cry indeed from the world of luxury hotels, says the gal. But wait a minute. There IS a link. Read on. Tessa Wienker is into conservation and the environment, which is what more and more discerning top-end travellers seek today. Anyway, this story is about gin, and how does Tessa Wienker come into it, asks the gal? Somewhere on his East African travels, a free-spirit adventurer with a love for the occasional gin and tonic, Robin Gerlach, met up with Tessa Wienker.
The result is Elephant Gin, a hand-crafted London Dry made in a Schnapps distillery in Germany. With a startup of only £150,000, raised by Robin Gerlach and Tessa Wienker and their friend Henry Palmer, its first 2,000-bottle batch, released September 2013, sold out immediately (did consumers like the name, the newness and the fact that 15 percent of profit goes to Space for Elephants Foundation, and to another conservation cause, Big Life Foundation?). First sales were in two Canadian-owned London stores, Fortnum & Mason and Selfridges, and in the Hong Kong-owned Harvey Nichols.
There are 14 botanicals in this gin. These include juniper, from Hungary, Macedonia and Tuscany; Mountain Pine needles from the Salzburger Mountains; French lavender to bring out floral notes; Spanish orange peel to add sweet aromatic notes; German apple for a crisp and sweet note; Indonesian cassia bark for its warm aromatic notes; Chinese ginger for warmth and spice, and Mexican pimento berries (allspice), for a slight peppery note. Labels on the bottles deliberately look hand-written, and each batch is named for one of the great elephants of the past.
This is a gin for travellers and adventurers of today, apparently, and I cannot wait to try it. Elephant Gin is already on the bar list at Duke’s Hotel in London. Now how long will it be before it appears on the exciting bar list at Armani Milano, or on that amazing 40-strong label list that is part of ‘design your own gin and tonic’ at Mandarin Oriental San Francisco?