Tuscany is a wine lover’s dream, but these days it will also satisfy many gin enthusiasts. Hidden amongst the rolling hills of Tuscany, just outside Florence, is a small gin distillery with spectacular views. If you are looking for something different to do during your trip to Florence, I recommend hiring a car and heading over to Peter in Florence gin distillery. The scenery alone makes the 30-minute drive worthwhile.
Peter in Florence London Dry Gin, 43% ABV, launched production in 2017, and so far, it can be found in eight countries around the world, although Italy is still their main market. The brand gets its inspiration from the ancient symbol of Florence, an iris flower. Both the flower and its roots are used as botanicals. Iris flower is rarely seen in gin production, and to get the best out of the delicate flavour, the flowers need to be carefully stored and used as fresh as possible. Iris root is better known as orris root, which, on the other hand, can be found in most gins. To go hand in hand with their Florentine approach, most of the botanicals are harvested locally. Tuscany is full of great botanicals, but Stefano, the master distiller, has also started to grow some of them in the gardens of the distillery.
Overall, there are 14 botanicals used to make this gin. Other local botanicals include juniper (Tuscan juniper is commonly used in British gins), almonds, lavender, rose hip, angelica, rosemary and bergamot peel. Spices such as grains of paradise, coriander and cardamom are from further afield. Peter in Florence is a juniper-forward gin with a lovely balance of Tuscan flavours followed by a subtle spiciness. It is made to be enjoyed neat, but also works well in a white Negroni. The botanical range offers many possibilities when choosing the garnish for a G&T.
The botanicals are vapour infused to best catch the delicate aromas. They use a Carterhead pot still, where the gin basket is next to the still instead of directly above the boiling alcohol. The steam rises through the rectifying column and down through the vapour pipe to the botanical basket. All the botanicals are carefully stacked onto the basket in a specific order. The still is based on the design used at Bombay Sapphire Distillery.
When it comes to the name of the gin, Peter in Florence, don’t be put off by it, as the gin is well worth a try. I’m not at all convinced this was the best possible name from a marketing point of view. I guess it will stick in your head because it is somewhat bizarre, but the connection is still slightly unclear to me. Originally, I thought perhaps the owner was called Peter or maybe the wild boar on the logo was a pet called Peter (can you have wild boar as pets?). Turns out Peter is from England; he is the father of one of the owners.
The gin is distilled, bottled and labelled (they use real leather labels) at the premises of an old Tuscan farmhouse. The farmhouse adds to the experience as they serve lunch, dinner and drinks, and you can even book an overnight stay (they have a swimming pool!).
Before our distillery visit, we made sure to test the food. It was one of those visits where you simply sit down, order your preferred wine and the rest will be taken care of. We started with a Spanish-style omelette, a selection of meats and cheese (the fennel salami was incredible) and freshly baked olive and nut breads (again, incredible). Followed by a choice of two primi and fresh fruit salad, with coffee to finish it all off. We were offered more courses but couldn’t handle more food!
The views from the farmhouse are spectacular – just sit back, relax and order a G&T!
There are a range of distillery tours available. Guests can stay at the farmhouse, enjoy the food and drink, pick some botanicals and then make their own gin. If you’re short of time, simply book a basic distillery visit with Stefano. He is very passionate about the production and super friendly, he’ll look after you well! More details about the Agriturismo Podere Castellare and the distillery can be found on their website.
If can’t make it to Italy but you’d like to try Peter in Florence Gin, order a bottle (or a small sample) from The Whisky Exchange.
Have you ever visited a gin distillery in another country? How did you find the experience?