English producer Foxhole Spirits has created Hyke Gin Very Special, a super-premium expression made from wine grapes, as part of a wider sustainability drive.
To craft Hyke Gin Very Special, Foxhole Spirits works with English winemakers to collect pressed wine grapes, which are typically discarded, to use as the raw material for the spirit.
The expression contains 19 botanicals, including grapefruit, earl grey tea, lapsang souchong tea and lavender. It’s then blended with aged grape brandy, which has been “secretly” maturing in ex-Cognac barrels for two years, according to Foxhole founder James Oag-Cooper.
“We add a drop of brandy into the gin at the very end,” Cooper told The Spirits Business.
“It’s this magical transformation. It takes this kind of complex botanical gin, and then just brings everything all together and makes this incredible, rich, powerful, concentrated spirit.”
‘Back to square one’
Oag founded Foxhole Spirits in 2016 with the vision of using surplus materials to make spirits. Its first expression, Foxhole Gin, is also made from English wine grapes. In 2019, the producer introduced Hyke Gin, which uses surplus table grapes, followed by the botanical rum Mad City, made from Fairtrade-certified distillates.
For the creation of Hyke Very Special, Oag-Cooper said the team “basically went back to square one”: “We took our English wine grape spirit and started to create something completely new with it. We realised that this raw material is so incredible, and has so much texture and flavour. With all of our expertise over the last few years, [we thought] that we could make something that other people will think is even better.”
With the launch of the new gin, Foxhole has announced that it is retiring its flagship Foxhole Gin in a bid to further commit to its sustainable efforts.
Oag-Cooper explained that while Foxhole Gin had its own unique bottle, Hyke Very Special uses the same packaging as Hyke Gin, albeit with a different label. “It’s all about streamlining and efficiency of transport for us,” he said.
“We’re not bringing in a separate bottle shape. We’re not using a different closure. We’ve actually cut our journey – the amount of miles that everything takes to get to the distillery – by 75%. It is a massive number, and it’s all part of the overall sustainability plan for the brand.”
On the nose, the 42% ABV gin is rich with sweet spice and bright, zesty citrus. The palate offers fresh herbs, more citrus and peppery spice, plus a smack of tea tannin.
Hyke Gin Very Special is available at an RRP of £36 (US$51) per 700ml.