Multi award-winning Salcombe Distilling Co. shines a light on its innovative new London light production process to achieve extraordinary taste without the alcohol with two new aperitifs launching in time for ‘Dry January’
November 2021, Salcombe, Devon: New London Light, a bold collection of contemporary non-alcoholic spirits and aperitifs is setting a new global standard in taste for the fast-growing alcohol-free spirits category, thanks to the adoption of innovative flavour combinations and a pioneering production process used to make its latest two expressions – New London Light ‘Midnight Sun’ and New London Light ‘Aegean Sky’.
“Until now, most alcohol-free drinks brands have been particularly light on detail and transparency when it comes to their distillation and production process,” says Jason Nickels, Master Distiller. “After nearly a decade of creating multi award-winning gin, we are delighted to share how our non-alcoholic aperitifs are created.”
Leading a new global standard in taste
These new releases have been created by Master Distiller Jason Nickels and the Salcombe Distilling Co. team who make a core part of the process at their waterside distillery, where they keep as much of the process in house as possible. The production of most non-alcoholic spirits and aperitifs is often outsourced to flavour houses, where the entire process takes place externally. Master Distiller, Jason Nickels uses his extensive knowledge and understanding of flavour, foraging, botany, and of course distillation, to create the core flavour profiles in-house.
“The non-alcoholic space is a fast-growing and exciting playground that has provided us with an opportunity to get creative and explore innovative techniques and processes. It is a challenge to provide something alternative to alcohol that doesn’t compromise on taste, and for us to be able to achieve this whilst keeping as much of the distillation process in house as possible, is something we’re extremely proud of,” explains Howard Davis, Co-founder & Director at Salcombe Distilling Co.
For the creation of the two new expressions launching in time for ‘Dry January’, the aperitifs have gone through a production process that comprises 5 steps including liquid inspiration & research; sourcing of botanicals; creation of a botanical steep; rotary vacuum distillation; and blending with further natural flavours.
Step 1. Inspiration and research
Led by Salcombe Distilling Co.’s strong association with the sea and adventure, Jason and his team take their inspiration from coastal locations around the world. New London Light ‘Midnight Sun’ is inspired by the rugged Nordic coastline and New London Light ‘Aegean Sky’ is influenced by the sun-soaked Mediterranean shores of the Aegean Sea. Exploring the indigenous botanicals and flavours that can be found in each region, created the foundation for the unexpected flavour combinations used to craft these exceptional aperitifs.
Step 2. Sourcing of botanicals
Based on this research, and using Jason’s horticultural and foraging know-how, he and his team hand-source each botanical and use as many locally foraged botanicals available to them as possible.
– Elderberries & Alexanders are found amongst hedgerows along the coast paths of the South Hams region.
– Kelp is foraged for locally, just after a high tide from the shorelines of Salcombe; a stone’s throw from SDCo.’s waterside distillery.
– Rose Petals, Bay Leaf & Rosemary are sourced from the seaside gardens of Salcombe and often picked from Jason’s own garden.
The more unusual botanicals, that cannot be foraged for locally, are sustainably sourced and hand selected for their exceptional quality and flavour. For ‘Midnight Sun’, botanicals such as Seaberries are handpicked from Cornish orchards or the Norfolk coast for their sharp, tart taste and Icelandic Moss is used to provide an earthy flavour profile and bitterness that helps balance the overall finish. For ‘Aegean Sky’, the combination of Mediterranean citrus fruits such as Bergamot from Calabria in Southern Italy are picked at their best to add intensely bitter, zingy citrus, whilst whole kumquats are selected for their complex bitter, citrus and sour notes.
Step 3. Botanical Steeps
To create the bases for ‘Midnight Sun’ and ‘Aegean Sky’ a ‘botanical steep’ for each is made to extract the key flavours for each expression. This is achieved by soaking a selection of botanicals – such as Elderberries, Seaberries, Kelp, Samphire, Alexanders and Icelandic Moss for ‘Midnight Sun’; and Kumquat, Bergamot, Olive and Rosemary for ‘Aegean Sky’ – in 40% ABV (alcohol by volume) grain spirit to macerate for 48 hours. The use of alcohol to extract and carry flavour is an important part of the process.
Step 4. Rotary Vacuum Distillation
Next, using a combination of craft and innovation, the botanical steep is then distilled in a rotary vacuum still; a process that removes the alcohol without removing the flavour. Leaving behind a highly concentrated core flavour distillate, which acts as the backbone for each expression.
This process essentially does the opposite of alcoholic spirit distillation, where the botanical flavours that are distilled are withdrawn with the alcohol, leaving behind the unwanted flavours.
The rotary vacuum distillation process requires precision and control by employing the following functions:
Vacuum – “like making a cup of tea on top of Mount Everest”
By sucking air out of the evaporation flask, it reduces the air pressure so that the liquid inside boils at a low temperature. It’s a bit like making a cup of tea on the top of Mount Everest, where the air is so thin that water boils at only 68c. The vacuum process allows flavours to be boiled at even lower temperature than this. By keeping the temperature low, flavour extraction can be controlled much more precisely.
Rotation – “like swirling a glass of wine to help release the aromas”
Much like swirling a spirit or wine in a glass to help release the aromas, the flask constantly rotates allowing the time and speed in which the flavours are extracted, to be carefully controlled.
Step 5. Blend with Further Flavours
The core distillate for each expression is then carefully blended with a selection of 100% natural flavours and distillates – such as the use of Lingonberries and Pine for ‘Midnight Sun’ and Blood orange and Rosehip for ‘Aegean Sky’ to create unexpected and delicious taste profiles. Both liquids are then stabilised with the unusual use of kombucha.
New London Light ‘Midnight Sun’
As unique as the rugged Nordic coast from where it takes its inspiration, New London Light ‘Midnight Sun’ is a layered and elegant non-alcoholic aperitif combining wild coastal berries, fresh kelp and pine.
On the nose there is a delicate combination of floral elderflower and fresh pine with a hint of berry sweetness and herbaceous dill. Sweet yet complex berry flavours are found on the palate with a touch of salinity from kelp and samphire. Floral notes of elderflower and resinous pine provide a full spectrum of flavour. The finish is long and lingering with natural sweetness making way for elderberry tartness, dryness from sage and pine and lasting sense of the sea from the subtle flavours of kelp.
New London Light ‘Aegean Sky’
Capturing the essence of the vibrant Mediterranean coast, New London Light ‘Aegean Sky’ is an innovative and complex non-alcoholic aperitif that combines sun-soaked bitter citrus and olive. Inspired by adventures in pursuit of golden horizons, every sip of this creative combination of sun-soaked bitter citrus and olive takes you on a journey into a new world of flavour.
Bursting with bright citrus aromas of blood orange on the nose with hints of fresh mandarin and kumquat. Fresh bitter citrus flavours of bergamot are layered on the palate, with floral notes of rosehip, earthy herbal undertones of rosemary and complex layers of olive throughout. The finish is bitter and dry with woody notes from quassia, balanced with herbaceous rosemary, lingering citrus, and a slightly savoury undertone olive shining through until the end.
New London Light ‘Midnight Sun’ and ‘Aegean Sky’ are never restricted to just one occasion and can be enjoyed by every discerning drinker at any time of day, from dawn to dusk, complementing the healthiest and most adventurous of lifestyles without giving up on deliciously sophisticated serves.
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