For those unable to jet off to the French Riviera anytime soon, there's a new gin that aims to bottle its essence.
After a decade of fruitful partnership building the Côtes de Provence–based Miraval brand (which now includes Fleur de Miraval Champagne and a skincare line called Le Domaine), Brad Pitt and Famille Perrin have decided to enter the spirits industry together with The Gardener, a gin many years in the making.
Co-founder Matthieu Perrin told Wine Spectator that since Pitt purchased Château Miraval over a decade ago, the actor has become increasingly enamored with the beauty and lifestyle of the Côte d’Azur—the southeastern French region stretching along the Mediterranean coast and up through Provence. “Artists from Cézanne to Matisse and Van Gogh all came here for the light, the colors—they were inspired by the French Riviera. Brad, too, fell in love with this way of life that exists nowhere else in the world.”
Of course, The Gardener is not the first gin with celebrity ties. The most famous and successful is Aviation (co-owned by Ryan Reynolds), joined in the celeb gin category by Indoggo (Snoop Dogg), Eden Mill (Gordon Ramsay) and Vulcan (Charles Barkley), among others.
Yet The Gardener has unique provenance, says Perrin, whose family has been making wine at Rhône’s Château de Beaucastel for five generations. “We all wanted to create something that could capture the aromas and the flavors of the French Riviera,” Perrin says. “We knew it had to be a gin. We had no other choice. It is the perfect spirit to reflect this landscape and the tremendous biodiversity we have here.”
Perrin began by hiring a botanist to catalog all the plants and botanicals growing wild on and around Beaucastel. “After a few months, he came back with this huge list—many plants we didn’t even know about—and all growing very near our vineyard.”
Newcomers to the world of distilled spirits, the partners convinced gin guru Tom Nichol to come out of retirement and join the project. Somewhat to the Perrins’ surprise, the longtime master distiller at Tanqueray had never heard of Miraval or Beaucastel.
“We assumed we would use a grape-based spirit from the south of France, of course, but Tom told us that if we want to be serious in the gin world, we had to use a grain-based spirit,” Perrin said. “He is the expert, so we agreed.” The Perrin family, as a pioneer of organic farming since 1950, also insisted the grain be organically farmed.
Nichol is a champion of the London dry gin style—“a return to the pure, fresh and classic profile,” as Perrin describes it. Based on the traditional juniper, licorice, angelica and coriander base, The Gardener also weaves in a less-conventional array of fresh citrus. “We use a blend of bitter oranges from the Cap d'Antibes area, sweet orange, pink grapefruit, lemon, almond and basil.”
The Gardener will officially launch during the 2023 Cannes Film Festival at the much-anticipated renovation of the Carlton, a legendary French Riviera hotel. It hits the U.S. market in September. How to best enjoy it? “In a simple Negroni,” Perrin advises, “garnished with fresh mint, or in a gin and tonic garnished with rosemary and a slice of orange.”
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