Submitted by Frankie Wilde.
A partnership between the owner of Château Climens, Bérénice Lurton, and co-founder of Salcombe Distilling Company on the South West coast of England, Angus Lugsdin, ‘Phantom’ is a limited-edition cask finished gin was launched on Friday 16th October 2020.
‘Phantom’ is a rich and complex gin inspired by the unique characteristics of Sauternes wines. This gin has been created by Bérénice and Angus who bring together their combined knowledge, experience and craftsmanship of wine making and distillation in the creation of this exceptional liquid.
Angus Lugsdin, co-founder of Salcombe Distilling Company, said: “As a long-term admirer of Sauternes wines, it was an enormous privilege to work in collaboration with Bérénice Lurton and Frédéric Nivelle of Château Climens. Often mistakenly overlooked in favour of the more famous Château D’Yquem, the wines from the bio-dynamic estate of Château Climens are fresher and softer, with more finesse and grace.”
Bérénice Lurton, owner of Château Climens, said: “When Angus first visited Climens and explained his idea, we were totally hooked. I was fascinated by Salcombe Distilling Company’s story. We both share a deep respect for the history of winemaking and distilling, and a commitment to exceptional craftsmanship.”
On the nose ‘Phantom’ is defined by honeyed peaches, rose petals, cypress, lavender and orange blossom. On the palate it is rich and poised with apricots, jasmine, toasted oak, spices and caramelised orange peel. There is a fresh green savoury hint from the nettle and fennel botanicals making it light but enhancing the depth of flavour. The finish is acacia honey and cantaloupe melon, balanced with the minerality of fresh orange peel pith.
Botanicals & Distillation Process
A total of 16 botanicals were chosen, seven of which were selected from the bio-dynamic estate of Château Climens including marigold flowers, bay leaf, savory, cypress, fennel, nettles and rose petals, all of which grow in and around the vines and contribute to the estate’s terroir.
These were then carefully balanced with a selection of traditional gin botanicals including Macedonian juniper, English coriander seed, orange peel and orris root, together with lavender, orange blossom and apricots to accentuate the trademark aromas and flavour profile of Château Climens wines.
The gin was distilled using the exacting one-shot method and then blended with pure naturally soft Dartmoor Water before being filled into the casks.
Aged Cask Selection, Production + Ageing Process
The six casks were hand selected by Angus and head winemaker at Château Climens, Frédéric Nivelle, for their sweet perfumed residual aromas and properties that they would share with the gin. Five had been used to age Château Climens 2016 vintage and one Château Climens 2015 vintage. They had been handcrafted from fine grain French oak that had been sustainably sourced from France’s Bertranges forest.
The casks were shipped to Salcombe in South Devon where they were filled with ‘Phantom’ and allowed to age for 8 months in the maturation warehouse under the watchful eye of Master Distiller, Jason Nickels.
The maturation warehouse’s waterside location in Salcombe provided the ideal conditions in which to cask finish the gin, with the liquid taking on a light golden hue from the oak casks and intriguing hints of sweet acacia honey, orange blossom and apricot.
After eight months the casks were emptied and blended together adding nothing but pure Dartmoor water to bring down to a bottling strength of 46% ABV and a small amount of acacia honey to complement the naturally present notes in Château Climens’ Sauternes and to add further richness to the mouthfeel.
During his first visit to Barsac, home of Château Climens, Angus was mesmerised by the mystical fog that moves silently over the vineyards and creates the perfect moist conditions for the proliferation of noble rot (botrytis), essential for the creation of the richness and complex wine style that inspired ‘Phantom’.
The name ‘Phantom’ comes from a Salcombe Fruit Schooner, built in Salcombe in 1867, and inspired by her cargo of the finest fruits, spices and wines.
Angus Lugsdin, co-founder of Salcombe Distilling Company, said: “There are so many chapters to this story that are so unique. The journey of the vineyard, the grape, the terroir, the famous Barsac fogs, the history, the generations, the tradition, Bérénice and Frédéric. The journey of the oak cask, from a forest to a cooperage, the barrels to Château Climens, ageing historic Sauternes to the modern ‘Phantom’ gin. It’s all about time and patience.”
Bérénice Lurton, owner of Château Climens, said: “It’s a romantic story that celebrates the passage of time, the mysterious fogs, the perfume of roses wet with dew in the courtyard, old attics filled with stories, new generations and creations.” She added: “The overall result is quite simply stunning. ‘Phantom’ effortlessly sits alongside our wines reflecting the same care and attention to detail that we put into everything we do.”
Virtual Masterclass with Bérénice Lurton
To celebrate the launch of ‘Phantom’, Angus Lugsdin and Bérénice Lurton will host a one-hour virtual masterclass at 67 Pall Mall, including an introduction to the history of Salcombe Gin and Château Climens, the creation of ‘Phantom’, a wine and gin tasting with Q&A. Anyone who wants to tune in can visit here at 6pm on Friday 20th November.
Limited to 3,500 50cl bottles, Salcombe Gin Voyager Series ‘Phantom’ is sold in a presentation box and is available online from Friday 16th October 2020 at salcombegin.com, from the Salcombe Gin Distillery and online via Master of Malt.
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