People are often surprised to discover that gin doesn’t have to be made from grain or malt. It just needs a neutral spirit base, which you can make from pretty much any ‘agricultural’ material: sugar beet, potatoes, sugar cane – and grapes.
In that respect at least, we’re part of a tradition going back centuries. What makes us unique isn’t our use of grapes, but the grapes we use.
How exactly do you make gin using grapes?
Since 2016, we’ve been repurposing and reimagining surplus grapes that would otherwise go to waste, from two very different sources. For our award-winning HYKE Gin, we make use of ordinary (table) grapes that supermarkets aren’t able to sell because they look less than perfect or simply don’t fit in the punnet when packed. For the luxurious HYKE Gin Very Special, we collect English-grown wine grapes after pressing from vineyards across South East.
To make both gins, we use our innovative three-stage production process, which we pioneered back in 2016. First, we press the grapes and ferment the juice into a wine. In HYKE Gin Very Special, it’s a mix of different grapes including Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Bacchus; what the wine trade calls an ‘assemblage’. But it’s the grape spirit in both of our gins that gives them their distinctive texture, body and flavour, which you won’t find elsewhere.
Then we distil this wine into a pure grape spirit. Next we blend the grape spirit with neutral grain spirit, add our unique mix of botanicals and distil it for a second time. Finally, the spirit is diluted with natural spring water and bottled.
What makes HYKE Gin different from other gins?
The key to our gins’ individual characters – which distinguish them both from each other and other ‘grape gins’ - is that we design our botanical recipes around the specific qualities and flavour profiles of their respective grape spirits. In effect, the grape spirit acts as an extra ‘liquid botanical’, helping to balance and enhance the finished products, and give them their density, viscosity and rich, velvety mouthfeel.
Table grapes are relatively large and contain lots of water and sugar, so produce a grape spirit with a bright, citrussy flavour. That means we only need to add a little orange zest and lemon as botanicals, instead we use more savoury botanicals like rooibos and myrrh give depth and complexity.
HYKE Gin Very Special
As well as being smaller, wine grapes naturally have much more concentrated, aromatic flavours than table grapes. The resulting grape spirit is rich, jammy and full of dark red and black fruits, so here we use botanicals like Earl Grey Tea and the fragrant resin Sambrani to introduce citrus notes. We also age some of the grape spirit to make our very own brandy, and add just a drop at the end of the bottling process. It’s a subtle but transformative finishing touch that brings everything into balance and harmony, as described in our tasting notes.
What makes grape based gin more sustainable?
HYKE Gin and HYKE Gin Very Special are part of our wider mission to make delicious, luxurious spirits using natural surplus materials generated by other businesses. As well as helping to cut waste-to-landfill from the winemaking and retail sectors, using surplus grapes reduces our reliance on specially-grown, single-purpose materials, which require land, energy and other resources to produce.
You can read more about our approach, which earned us top honours at the Footprint Drinks Sustainability Awards in 2020, here.
What are the best ways to enjoy HYKE Gin?
Apart from making the best G&T you’ve ever tasted, HYKE Gin and HYKE Gin Very Special are incredibly versatile and perfect for mixing. We’ve created a range of Gin cocktails that really bring out their individual flavours and characters – you can also find our latest suggestions and share your own favourite serves via our social channels.