Sandro Bottega: ‘The premium Italian gin’

Premium gins are driving growth in this increasingly popular drinks category, reveals the Vinexpo/IWSR Report. Sandro Bottega, owner of Bottega, a wine and spirits company going back four centuries, reveals his approach to the gin phenomenon.

 

Q:        What are the major challenges for Gin Bottega Bacûr at home and abroad?

A:        The major challenge is to stand out in a crowded    segment. We are hinging on being perceived as “the premium Italian Gin”, made with Italian ingredients and    distilled in Italy, with a fantastic Italian style in the taste and in the packaging. We want to demonstrate that gin             can be a fully Italian product; indeed, Italy is one of the most important, if not the most important, producer of juniper berries.

Q:        What explains the remarkable popularity of gin?

A:        There are many reasons for the resurgence of this beautiful and refreshing distillate – once called ‘Mother’s Ruin’, today Mummy’s “me-time”.

One is the cocktail culture revival. Cocktails are, and have always been, pivotal to the success of a drinks product, whether it is tonic water or a niche Brazilian spirit. Like most trends in the drinks industry, bartenders    play a leading role: they are going back to classic             concoctions and gin has a long history in the cocktail world. They love gin anyway because it is a very versatile spirit; it is clear and light and doesn’t compete with other ingredients (while brown spirits tend to do so).

Another reason is that Millennials (now influencing global shopping habits) appreciate its easy, fresh, flavourful and pure taste. More importantly, they look for flavour (and gin features a large variety of flavours!), provenance (local, craft, smaller scale companies) value rather than volume, and want to experiment with something different because they are        becoming more adventurous and knowledgeable.

Q:        What distinguishes Gin Bottega Bacûr from other gins

A:        Gin Bacûr Bottega stands out from other gins because of its excellent Italian raw materials, the Alpine water used in the recipe and the craft distillation. The herbs used are: juniper from Tuscany, sage from the Veneto countryside, lemons from Sicily. Compared to other gins which combined a large number of botanicals, to the detriment of quality, a main feature of Gin Bacur Bottega is simplicity.

We only use Cultivar Femminello Siracusano lemons, from organic farming. they are small lemons with very thin skin containing a high quantity of aromatic natural oil. The oils are cold extracted from the lemon peels to obtain an essential oil without acidity (pH 6) and a             harmonious taste.

We use alcohol distilled from grain in 5 steps to obtain a    very pure distillate. The extraction of botanicals takes place at a low temperature and lasts for 15-45 days, to avoid affecting the polyphenols and tannic substances of the herbs. The resulting infusion is redistilled under         vacuum at low temperature to maintain its aromatic fragrances. All these natural distillates are blended together and left to rest for 30 days, in order to avoid roughness, and aromas with dominant characteristics.

The liquid is then diluted with pure water from the Italian Alps, further demineralized from the last few residues.

Q:        What are the benefits of Alpine water?

A:        The Alps are Europe’s highest altitude region and the purest and most pollution-free environment. There are at least 50 sources of pure mineral water and    oligo-mineral water (mineral salts content below 250 mg/l) in the Alps. The final filtration takes place at a          temperature of 0 ° C to guarantee the preservation of the aromatic characteristics.

Q:        What are your largest markets?

A:        They are the duty-free markets in Germany, Canada, Malaysia, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the UK

Q:        Which are the fastest-growing markets

A:        Certainly the UK

Q:        How important is shelf stand-out and design?

A:        Very important. It is essential to stand out because the on-shelf environment in both the on-trade and the off-trade is very crowded and the gin offerings very diverse.

Gin Bacûr packaging was designed to recall the material   of traditional alembics. The name Bacûr is the ancient Hellenic words for copper. Further, the metalized look creates a product family feel with Bottega Gold, the iconic guilded Prosecco bottle which is Bottega’s flagship product. This distinctive packaging adds extra value and turns the bottle into a gift and a status symbol.

Q:        How important is consumer education in the crowded gin sector?

A:        Education about gin is important because most consumers lack knowledge of the spirit. We communicate also the origin of the ingredients, the distillation method, the water and the production method, and – last but not least – the experience of our Master Distillers. To do so, we employ both brand ambassador and bartenders, according to the environment, to   educate consumers about the specific characteristics that make our product stand out in this busy segment

Q:        Please give an example of a promotional or education programme for Gin Bottega Bacûr

A:        We teach people to drink gin at room temperature, not mixed with other ingredients, to sip it from a large wine glass and to try it out matched with chocolate, aperitivo     and salty canapés.

Q:        Do you plan other launches in the gin sector

A:        We are currently working on a cannabis-infused gin which will be release when Italy legalises this type of spirit.

Company profile: Bottega SpA traces its origins to 1635 when Andrea Bottega grew vines for the Count of Collato. Fast forward four hundred years and the company is still family-owned and producing a wide range of still and sparkling wines, spirits and liqueurs.