Any gin lover worth their salt will know that the quality of their mixer is just as important as the spirit it’s paired with.
What you may not know is that the process by which the highest-quality of these mixers are made – including Fentimans, which produces the bottle of Sparkling Lime and Jasmine our Members found in their boxes this month – is as time-honoured a British tradition as the gin distillation process.
For Fentimans, a truly superb drink can only be made using one method: botanical brewing. This seven-day process, in use since Thomas Fentiman began manufacturing ginger beer in 1905, is the secret to creating the depth of flavour and rich texture that mark truly high-quality soft drinks and mixers.
As Jaala Pickering of Fentimans explains: “The botanical brewing process – that quality and heritage – is what makes Fentimans.”
So how does it work?
It all starts with scouring the world for the finest botanicals, Pickering explains. “Our rose oil is from Bulgaria, and our ginger from China. These are all-natural botanicals, and the finest in the world.”
Fentimans – whose founder and namesake, then an iron puddler, received a ginger beer recipe as security for a loan that was never repaid – uses the root as the basis for all of its soft drinks. The ginger is bruised, crushed and milled, then placed in a copper pans and gradually heated to simmering point. The slow application of heat releases and extracts the fine ginger sediment and a flavoursome botanical extract.
Once ready, the botanical liquid is filtered into a wooden vat, where herbs, sugar, natural flavouring and brewer’s yeast are added to the botanical extract. A day later, a crust of live yeast has formed on the top; this crust is removed and the liquid left to ferment in the wooden vat – that’s how the drinks end up with an ABV of 0.5%!
It’s a long process, Pickering says, but one integral to Fentimans identity. “It’s a personal nod to Thomas Fentiman,” she explains. “Our current managing director is his great-grandson, so we’re family run and want to keep the traditions alive. Although we’re working on different flavours all of the time, we don’t put anything on the market unless it works with his standards and his heritage.”
The drink development process at Fentimans is rigorous, but one new flavour has earned its spot on the roster: Sparkling Lime and Jasmine.
A stunning five botanicals are infused in this one-of-a-kind drink: the drink’s namesake lime and jasmine flowers, but also hyssop, myrtle leaf and juniper berries.
The drink was born, according to Pickering, when Fentimans noticed how consumers increasingly want to consume premium soft drinks from a wine glass.
It may have been developed as a soft drink, but as our Members are discovering, Fentimans Sparkling Lime and Jasmine is also a perfect match for gin. Cheers!