To celebrate our new stock of Sanction Gin, we spoke with its creator - Matthew from Gin Without Borders - to find out more about the story behind the drink. Matthew told us about urban art, red tape, and how Brexit inspired the company’s existence.
What’s the story behind Gin Without Borders?
A few years ago, I moved from the North East of England to Aberdeen to work as an engineer. It was a challenging time, leaving my future wife (who I’d just met) and friends behind, I was feeling rather grim about the whole situation. Nevertheless, it has turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life, as it was in Aberdeen that I met two very inspiring and creative people that have helped to shape and influence Sanction Gin and our brand.
The first was a gentleman who is well known in the ‘gin world’, Martin Murray, the man behind Rock Rose gin. He himself worked as an engineer and I found myself eagerly taking in his career advice whilst offshore in the middle of the North Sea. At the same time, he was planning his exit from the oil industry to become a gin distiller. Martin went on to produce what is- in my opinion- one of the finest gins in the country, and I have watched with great pleasure the growth of his very own distillery- Dunnet Bay. His passion and dedication have certainly inspired me personally and I have at times called upon Martin for advice and support.
The other influential person to inspire our brand came from a chance meeting when I sat next to a very unassuming gentleman on the train home. What started off as idle chitchat soon lead to one of the most interesting conversations I’ve had. Over the 5-hour journey (and a couple of beers) he told me he worked as an artist and educated me on the world of urban art. Something I knew very little about. When I got off the train, I was handed the badge you see below, it was certainly cooler than your average business card.
I was stunned to later find that the artist I was sat beside was War Boutique, a visual artist who had exhibited his work alongside Banksy at the famous Andipa Art Gallery in London. We kept in touch and he sent my wife and I a wedding gift out of the blue of a Big Brother eye test you see in the image below. This became the influence behind our company logo.
Having travelled with my work I have been lucky enough to see many different cultures and countries, but I have also seen a great deal of friction between people based on individual differences. On the morning of the EU referendum – the 23rd June 2016 – I was sat in Madrid airport about to board a flight home, watching the news and thinking about the endless politics and friction in the world. I finally thought enough was enough. I decided to register my company. I wanted a brand that recognised uniqueness and individuality, free of prejudice and discrimination so I named it Gin Without Borders.
I set about with a small team of family members and close friends to create a recipe that incorporated the unique flavours of the world. During our recipe development, we carefully hand selected ingredients and botanicals from some of the countries I had worked in the years since meeting Martin and War Boutique. These included: almonds from Iran, angelica root from Russia, cardamom from India and cassia bark from Hong Kong. We wanted to create a gin that showcased the flavours of the world, regardless of politics, race or religion so Sanction Gin fitted the irony of the situation the UK found itself in on the 23rd June. Establishing our company on that day was a silent protest to the division and bureaucracy.
Finally, we were very privileged to work with Charles Maxwell of Thames Distillers, one of the best master distillers in the country and after months of development our recipe was perfected and Sanction Gin was born.
How has the journey been in getting to the end product of Sanction Gin?
From inception to the final product, the journey has been and still is a steep learning curve. It has taken me on an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least.Whilst the branding and idea were clear from the start, the level of legislation was difficult to comprehend. I have spent many sleepless nights reading up on the latest legislation and spent a lot of time educating myself about the spirits business. I recently became a dad, so I’m beginning to get used to functioning on very little sleep and juggling my continuing reading with feeding and winding a baby!
From day one, we wanted to make sure we are a responsible and ethical company, which involved months of meetings in presenting our business case and branding to the HMRC, trading standards, Portman Group and Drinkaware etc, all offered support and guidance to ensure we marketed our brand appropriately.
It seemed at times that the day our gin would finally be produced would never come as there have been so many hurdles that we have needed to overcome. Without the support of my family and friends, I think I would have quite easily given up, but I am pleased to now say I carried in and I’m proud of what has been achieved.
What makes Sanction Gin special to you?
The process of making Sanction Gin has been challenging and it has really pushed me both mentally and physically. It has been a difficult venture and I believe the journey and overcoming the many obstacles have made Sanction Gin special to me.
Sanction Gin is an ultra premium and ultra inclusive London Dry Gin, made by one of the best distilleries in the UK, bringing together the flavours of the world. The hand selected botanicals from around the globe combine to make the product special. Sanction Gin has a very unique and distinguishing taste that helps it to stand out from other similar products. It has been described as being heavy and captivating on the nose and earthy and sweet on the palate. Its citrus flavour combines perfectly with the herbs and roots, yet the cardamom finds its way through without taking any special prominence over any of the other botanicals.
What’s next for Gin Without Borders?
Now the fun has just started and we’ve launched Sanction Gin with the much-appreciated help of the Gin Festival, we’re busy working with some of the best independent bars and restaurants in the country to create a list of perfect serves.
We’re also working with Thames Distillers to produce variations of Sanction Gin – so watch this space!
Gin Without Borders is honoured that Gin Festival customers will be among the first to taste Sanction Gin, and they value your feedback as gin lovers.
When you’ve tried this new gin, let them know what you think by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org
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