Porter's Gin opens doors to micro distillery

Porter’s Gin is reaping the benefits of exposing its production techniques to the public since investing thousands in distilling equipment.

The Aberdeen-based micro distillery is located in the basement of Orchid Bar where Alex Lawrence, head bartender at Dandelyan - currently number one in The World’s 50 Best Bars, learned to bartend. Lawrence is co-founder of the gin alongside Ben Iravani, who opened Orchid in 2009, and Josh Rennie.

Iravani acquired their first rotavap nearly 10 years ago from an old biology professor, Andrew Porter, and late last year the team installed three brand new rotavaps in the basement of Orchid, creating their own micro distillery.

“The new space is a fantastic tool for us to connect with consumers because they’re always curious to see the rotavaps and actually see how we do things, and it’s just downstairs in the same bar,” says Iravani.

Porter’s Gin is made in collaboration with Quintessential Brands' G&J Distillers, which claims to have been distilling for 250 years,  It uses a fruit called Buddha’s Hand (pictured) as a botanical, a citrus fruit thought to have originated from north India or China. The gin also uses pink peppercorn, orange, orris root and eight other botanicals in its production.

“When Alex and I managed to get our first rotavap working we used it to make distillates for the cocktails on the menu at Orchid, but after Josh returned from China he was really keen on the idea of making our own gin."

Rennie adds: "I started ordering botanicals from around the world and experimenting with different recipes, it was great fun - even some guy in the Amazon sent us something to play with.

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"We didn’t want to make a naive product that was good, but either too expensive, too rare or niche. So we travelled around the UK meeting master distillers and one of the things they questioned the most was the Buddha’s Hand, so we knew we had something different."

G&J Distillers, makers of Greenall’s gin, Bloom and Opihr gin, worked with Porter's for about a year, before Rennie finalised their recipe. The base spirit is made from G&J's pot stills and then the Porter’s team add the rotavapped botanicals.

But their fairly recent investment of new rotavaps is a sign that they wanted to take this project more seriously and members of the public can now book a 45 minute slot every Saturday to visit the basement distillery and enjoy some Porter’s Gin cocktails.

Another recent innovation introduced by the Porter’s team was the launch of Porter’s Tropical Old Tom at the tail end of 2018. Together with its original expression, Porter’s sold 30,000 bottles - around 5,000 cases and gained five new international markets in 2018 and there’s no sign of things slowing down in 2019.