Flamingo’s are curious creatures. How I know? Because I am one. You can call me Sir Edmond, creator of the very first vanilla infused gin.
Being a migratory bird from the island of Réunion, vanilla capital of the world, the winds have blown me to every corner of our wondrous globe. My appetite for new adventures is boundless. Some call it odd, I call it destiny. Where’s the fun in following the flock?
I stand out. Always did. As my fellow birds were balancing on their left leg, I stood on my right. While they sat at the table, I danced on top of it. When they settled for tropical bliss, I flew north. In Amsterdam, my adopted hometown, I created the unique gin I had envisioned for years.
Why, you ask? Because of what I am: a rebellious spirit with an unusual character. These seven words are the very soul of my vision. It’s what makes my vanilla infused gin stand out from the crowd like I stood out from the flock. It’s what makes me wake up with wanderlust, polish my feathers, and turn my vanilla addiction – it’s genetic, I’m afraid – into the best damn gin imaginable. Every day again.
I hate to admit it, but I’m as proud as a peacock (although a lot less arrogant). To those birds who love to shake them tailfeathers: just try it. Allow Sir Edmond Gin to be your party starter. The fuel to your family dinner. Call me your wingman and treat your tonsils to a gin adventure you aren’t likely to forget any time soon.
Great gin is only half the story, though. The truth is in the adventure. So by all means, read on. Let me tell you about my ingredients, my favourite serves, my namesake and inspiration Mr Edmond Albius, and the African Wildlife Foundation I support. I want you to be part of this rebellious and unusual journey, too. Because you know, in the end, it’s all about leaving a legacy.
Are you ready to fly? Let’s flamingo.
w i n n e r o f t h e p r e s t i g i o u s :
master medal – gin masters 2017
quotes from the spirits business tasting panel
“Kicking off the mighty Masters was Sir Edmond Gin, which surprised judges with its heavy vanilla nose, but complex juniper-forward palate.”
Amy Hopkins, deputy editor of The Spirits Business
“For a gin with such a difference between nose and palate, it would be easy for it to be unbalanced – but it worked. It was a pleasant shock.”
Ben Manchester, the bar manager of The Blind Pig, London
“They should be proud to pull off something other people can’t.”
Ben Lindsay, director at Garnish Communications Agency
1. VANILLA – VAINA REUNION // 2. JUNIPER – JUNIPERUS MACEDONIA // 3. ANGELICA ROOT – ANGELICA RADIX GREENLAND
4. CARDAMOM – CARDA MOMUM GUATEMALA // 5. GINGER – GINGIBERVAINA NIGERIA // 6. CINNAMON – CANELLE CHINA
Coming from the island of Réunion, vanilla capital of the world, I take my botanicals very seriously. They are presents of Mother Nature, aren’t they? Carefully combined, six of them give my rebellious spirit its unusual character: vanilla (obviously), juniper, angelica root, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon. Let me introduce you to the true stars of Sir Edmond Gin.
- Vanilla lends my spirit its adventurous soul. If it wasn’t for Réunion born Mr Edmond Albius, my namesake and inspiration, vanilla might have never become such a beloved flavouring. And sweet mother of birds, what a treat it is! Not only does vanilla make my gin change colour, it’s also responsible for the unusual, smooth and refined taste you’re in for. The legacy of Edmond Albius lives on.
- Juniper is at the heart of Sir Edmond Gin – and of gin and its Dutch predecessor jenever in general. The aromatic ‘berries’ of the juniper tree aren’t actual berries, but fleshy seed cones. Mine are from Macedonia, the world’s primary producer. In autumn, the berries ripen as their green skin turns purple. The juniper is harvested, I kid you not, by beating the trees with a stick. The berries fall, are gathered, get sorted, and – deo volente – end up in your glass.
- Angelica root likes it cold and damp; it prefers growing near water. Above Greenland ground the ‘angelica archangelica’ is already a rather charming plant, but the real magic happens in the soil. Originally grown for it’s nutritious and medicinal capacities, the sweetly scented angelica root came to be a favourite among gin makers. I’m proud to be one of them.
- Cardamom is a strong, fragrant spice made from the small black seeds of plants from the Zingiberaceae family. Or in understandable English: the ginger family. Native to India, cardamom is still being cultivated in large parts of Asia, but today’s biggest producer is Guatemala. As a matter of fact, that’s where I flew to get my feathers on it. Cardamom doesn’t come cheap: in price per weight it’s only surpassed by saffron and, of course, vanilla.
- Ginger could be called cardamom’s outrageously popular cousin. Like with angelica root, it’s what’s going on underground that counts. Ginger root makes up for it’s slightly deformed appearance (sorry, ginger) by being a spice famous for it’s versatility. It was one of the first to be shipped from the Orient to Europe, but is currently cultivated as far out as Nigeria. I like to think different, so guess where mine is from…
- Cinnamon was imported to Egypt as early as 2000 BCE, but up until the Middle Ages, the source of the sweet spice remained a mystery to Europeans. In the 1500s, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan found it in the Philippines. A century later, the Dutch East India Company made the trade blossom like never before. Cinnamon is essentially the inner bark of a tree – hence the funny shape. Add a stick to your Sir Edmond Gin & Tonic and float off to the Chinese cinnamon heaven that produced this oriental delicacy.
Want more? Read ‘The Story of Cinnamon’ here.
Have you ever seen a flamingo patting himself on the back? Sometimes, when no one’s looking, I do it. Why? Because I take tremendous pride in the fact that Sir Edmond Gin’s delicate, smooth and unusual character works so well in a multitude of cocktails. To enjoy my rebellious spirit in the best way possible, I asked Dutch master bartender Mr Timo Janse to stir, shake and strain ten outstanding serves for your drinking pleasure. Salute!
THE LEGACY OF MR EDMOND ALBIUS
My story starts with a man who felt like doing it differently. A rebellious spirit who didn’t just think outside the box, but got rid of it. An unusual character who singlehandedly changed the future of vanilla. His name: Mr Edmond Albius.
In 1841, when he was just 12 years of age, Edmond discovered that vanilla orchids could be artificially pollinated by hand. Born a slave in Sainte-Suzanne, a commune on the north coast of the French island of Réunion, the boy needed little more than a blade of grass and a quick flick of his thumb to revolutionise the cultivation of vanilla.
To understand the impact of Edmond’s discovery, I need to take you back to 1820s, when French colonists first began growing vanilla on Réunion. Soon enough they were confronted with the fruitlessness of their efforts, as the insects refused to pollinate the vines. A teenager accomplished what a French university professor of botany had failed to achieve in the 1830s: quick and profitable pollination.
Edmond’s simple but sophisticated invention didn’t go unnoticed. His manual technique became standard practice and is, amazingly enough, still being used today – far beyond Réunion. In a just world, Mr Albius would have acquired wealth and received an endless amount of respect for as long as he lived. The truth is: he didn’t. After the French abolished slavery in 1848, the man that unknowingly made history left the plantation to become a kitchen servant. At the age of 51, a poor, free man by the name of Edmond Albius died where he was born as a poor, enslaved child: in Sainte-Suzanne.
Upon hearing his story, I felt compelled to include it in my own. Because history is far more than a succession of events. It tells us where we came from, where we are right this minute, and where we are heading. To embark on my gin journey without honouring the man responsible for Sir Edmond Gin’s unique and distinctive taste, would be sacrilegious. Like him, I have vanilla flowing through my veins. Using his first name is my tribute.
May the legacy of Edmond Albius live on.
AFRICAN WILDLIFE FOUNDATION
Have you ever wondered what the name ‘Edmond’ means? Read on, and I will tell you.
Sir Edmond Gin is a product of the world. Literally. I get my botanicals from southeastern Europe, Central America, Greenland, China, and Africa. Being a migratory bird from Réunion, my beloved island paradise east of Madagascar, the protection of African wildlife is as dear to me as making the best vanilla infused gin possible. I guess it’s in my DNA.
I may be a rebellious spirit, but I acknowledge my responsibility. In the face of human threats, I stand by my fellow animals on the African continent. How? Simple: for every bottle sold, there’s a contribution to the African Wildlife Foundation. This Kenya based charity dedicates its passion and funds to wildlife conservation and habitat protection, but also to community empowerment and economic development.
We enjoy the fruits of Mother Earth every day. What’s more beautiful and meaningful than returning the favour? I dream of an Africa where fragile ecosystems are restored to their pristine natural state by the collective efforts of well-meaning people across the globe. An Africa where all animals (but especially flamingo’s) are respected by humans, and taken for the miracles they are. You can make my mission your mission, one sip at a time.
And the meaning of ‘Edmond’? Protector. Allegedly, those named Edmond have a deep inner desire to inspire others in a higher cause. You wouldn’t say…