Gins with mountain herbs

Research, experimentation and a pinch of madness

It may be that the juniper is a plant with portentous properties, known and recognised for centuries. It may be that wheat and barley distillate, with which juniper is mostly mixed, has visited the desks and pages of European and American literature since the beginning of the 1900s. It may be that gin, born as a real medicine against gout, digestive disorders and malaria, has such an intense aroma and not at all persistent on the breath, that it boasts countless fans among women. It may be that since 2010, every October 19, the whole world celebrates “Gin Day” in honour of Mrs. Mary Edith Keyburn, who never parted way with her gin and tonic and had a very long life.

To be sure, gin-mania has begun establishing its own long history in Trentino as well. And how could it be otherwise? If it is true that the botanical aroma that must prevail in gin is juniper, it is also true that it is the selection and blends of various other botanicals, like herbs, spices and berries, that build the most interesting notes in terms of intensity and purity of the various labels. Hence, the mountain has excellent cards to play, not only for the specialty of plants and herbs it offers, but also for the purity of the water with which wheat is distilled.

If gin is your passion or if you haven’t tasted it yet, in Trentino you will find excellent places that promise to pamper your palate. However, if you want to savour the true taste of our land and discover its nuances depending on the origin of the herbs used, here is an overview of gins made in Trentino, those that smell of lakes, woods, earth and rocks.

The gins of Trentino

Gins from 0 to 600 metres above sea level

Let’s start from Vallagarina. It is here that we find a historic distillery, in the municipality of Nogaredo, which was born of the initiative of Sabina Marzadro who, together with her brother Attilio, managed to give life to the first of a very successful series of grappas and distillates in 1949. In 2018 Marzadro embraced the experiments that Leonardo Veronesi had been doing since 2013 with gin blends, and placed Luz Gin on the market. It is a very fresh gin made up of 9 Trentino botanicals: juniper, laurel, olive, woodruff, rosemary, sage, mint and lemon. Two variants were created in 2020; although starting from the same base, they became a London Dry due to the distillation process and an even fresher gin macerated with Garda lemon zest.

The Marzadro distillery also placed its confidence in three friends from Trento, Federico, Simone and Davide, who for two years studied their formula for Gazér Gin, a forest-friendly gin that supports the Trentino Tree Agreement, the project to which the distillery donates part of the sale proceeds. A mountain gin produced with two infusions and whose four main botanicals, apart from juniper, are mountain pine, chamomile, honey and elderberry. A gin to drink with a neutral tonic water, without lemon and with a few grains of pepper.

The gins of Trentino

In Valle dei Laghi, in Pergolese, the Fratelli Pisoni Distillery and Winery boasts 3 centuries of history and, since 2021, has been producing the 7 lakes Gin which pays homage to the 7 lakes of the valley: Lamar, Santo, Terlago, Santa Massenza, Toblino, Lagolo and Cavedine. It is a fresh and balsamic gin obtained from a blend of juniper, woodruff, mint, rhubarb, gentian, centaury, licorice, calamus and cinchona. It is a gin that gives its best when enjoyed straight.

A particularly dry gin that is well suited to prepare cocktails is Gin Cup, produced in Aldeno, in Valle dei Laghi, by Antica Erboristeria dott. Cappelletti. It is a simple gin with a prevalence of coriander, elderflower, dog rose and gentian.

Not too far away we find another guarantee of Trentino distillation, Francesco Poli on Lake Santa Massenza, producer of Semanterion Gin. It is a precious gin distilled in a few bottles. Its creator is Tonek Pripichek, the stage name of a musician and cook of peasant origin, who has traveled the world from Vallagarina for forty years. Upon returning home, he made his dream come true. He produced three gins representing three seasons, each celebrating the birth of his children: Semanterion Gin Carlot Spring Botanicals, Semanterion Gin Gizy Summer Botanicals and Semanterion GionGion Autumn Botanica. These gins are prepared with a blend of about twenty herbs and spices and give the palate a predominantly hint of cardamom, white fir and rosemary. Semanterion is the wooden gong used by Byzantine monks, which is precisely what this gin wants to stimulate when sipped: a “beat of the spirit”.

The gins of Trentino

Gins from 600 to 1300 metres above sea level

Going up from Valle dei Laghi towards Val di Ledro, we reach another historic herbal shop, Foletto, which has been producing herbal liqueurs under the Picco Rosso brand since 1850. Gin 170th was born in 2020 to celebrate 170 years of activity. It is a velvety, elegant and enveloping gin made with Baldo juniper and Garda lemon zest, distinguished by fruity notes of raspberries and wild strawberries from Ledro woods.

Going further north, passing Trento, we arrive in Val di Cembra. The historic Trentino gin, Gin Pilz, was born in the Pilzer distillery, located in Faver, a town of smuggled distillers at the end of the Second World War. It is a London Dry gin with Mediterranean notes and the recipient of many awards. It is the fruit of the distillation of 15 botanicals, in addition to juniper, including cardamom, lemon and orange zest, chamomile, woodruff, sage and rosemary from two different gardens, and angelica root. It is a very fresh gin to drink straight.

In the same years in which Gin Pilz was born, the Pilzer distillery also leveraged its experience to give life to Gilbach.Gin. This gin was the result of the initiative and encounter of two souls, Alessandro Gilmozzi, starred chef from Cavalese, and his sous chef, Andreas Bachmann. Gilbach.Gin is made with local hand-picked herbs, juniper, elderberry and blackthorn, and is characterised by notes of hazelnut, resin and anise. It is the perfect gin to combine with mountain red fruits or black pepper to warm up an evening.

Finally, going up towards Val di Non we find Tovel’s Gin, the gin of one of the most evocative lakes in Trentino. This gin was born in Tassullo, in the Adamello Brenta Park. It is made with mountain pine, dogwood, angelica, gentian, elderflower, a variety of mountain cumin, ash bark and Garda lemon zest, but, above all, with Tovel spring water and juniper that grows along its banks.

If you feel like trying any of these gins, look for them and then toast to the gin from our mountains!

Published on 30/08/2023