Gin Lovers Mark Neal, Daniel Mclaughlin and Richard Bourke believed that gin had an image problem.
It was perceived as very proper, serious and stuck in the past. Riding the resurgence in craft spirits, localism and artisan products, they set out to make gin that was modern and progressive, a gin that New Zealand could take to the world. In short, they wanted to give gin a bit of Kiwi cool.
Establishing Rogue Society Distilling Company, their brief was to create a classically citrus, super-smooth gin. It took 1½ years and about 50 experimental batches before they got the gin they wanted.
Mark explains that their gin making is based on four pillars. “First we use a wheat-base grain spirit, a very clean spirit. Second is the still. It’s a 19thcentury hand-beaten copper whisky still, a John Dore still.” Throughout the world people are becoming interested in the provenance of ingredients, and Mark says that’s where New Zealand comes out tops. “Our third essential is pure water from an aquifer in Canterbury, and finally we take great care to source our botanicals from the very best in the world.” This is all then hand-crafted in small batches at the distillery in Christchurch.
Being a small, artisan producer they market just two varieties. Launched in 2014 Scapegrace Gin has 12 of those exotic botanicals including lemon and orange peel. A year later came Scapegrace Gold, a navy-strength gin with the addition of tangerine peel.
As well as the gin winning medals at the San Francisco Wines and Spirits Competition and the London International Wine and Spirits Competition, they also were awarded Best Looking Gin Bottle of 2014. A lot of hard work went into getting the bottle design right. Mark says they wanted a unique bottle to match the unique product so they trawled e-bay hunting down antique genever bottles, using these as inspiration for their own bottle design. That’s what sums up Scapegrace Gin – a modern take on a classic.
TRY THIS CLASSIC COCKTAIL: CLOVER CLUB Take 45ml Scapegrace Classic, 30ml lemon juice, 20ml raspberry syrup, 20ml egg white and a dash of Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters. Shake together, serve in a pretty coupe garnished with freeze-dried raspberries and edible flowers. /scapegracegin.com /