Crafter’s Wild Forest – a taste journey in the Nordic wilderness

What is the story behind the bold flavour profile of Crafter’s Wild Forest premiumgin? What makes it stronger than other gins? How do evergreens survive the winter? Join us as we discuss this and many other things with Liviko’s beverage architect Hanna Kaur.

“Crafter’s Wild Forest is a gin with a distinguished character and flavour profile for those of us looking for bolder, more potent flavour. To achieve this, we have used essential Nordic flavours of the evergreen forest and given this gin a strength of 47 per cent,” says beverage architect Hanna Kaur.

“As a self-aware and headstrong brand, Crafter’s does not follow trends, but is focused on its own identity and growth, offering novel sensory pleasures while inspiring people,” adds Hanna.

It all started with the evergreen blueberry

When working on the concept for a new gin, the beverage architect came up with the idea of producing a Nordic mezcal-like drink with smoky undertones. Hanna worked her way through numerous scientific papers to break down the chemical constituents of agave into compounds. “I then went through the botanical charts made in Liviko over the years and looked more carefully into Estonian plants. I wasn’t looking for a flavour that would resemble agave. Instead, I wanted to find plants that contain similar chemical compounds to get an effect similar to agave,” says Hanna.

While my initial thought had been smokiness, it was the evergreen blueberry that set the tone for the selection of botanicals. “I had already analysed and dissected blueberry plants in the lab while researching flavours for Crafter’s Aromatic Flower gin. But back then, I wasn’t struck by the eureka moment that I should pair blueberry with other evergreens,” Hanna recalls.

The mighty and mystical coniferous forest

“Early spring blueberry shoots were the first thing I wanted to have in the new gin. This led me to the idea of using other evergreen plants. Our cold and crisp climate is home to plants with special powers that survive all year round, telling their story on each of the 365 days of the year. And just like that, pine, spruce and juniper – all endemic conifers – found their way into the recipe,” adds Hanna.

“When it comes to juniper berries, we have selected those with a fresh profile for Crafter’s Wild Forest gin. The deep resinous notes of pine come from juicy spring pine shoots. In spruce, by contrast, we have looked for dry and thorny notes, opting to use ripe spruce needles in this gin,” says the beverage architect.

The selection was inspired by the coastal forest of northern Estonia, which has been sculpted by merciless sea winds, arming the plants with additional strength and unusual depth. Coastal wind gusts are not sparing on vegetation.

“I wanted to pair the conifers with a unique and delicate evergreen, and decided to add in beautiful small heather flowers, which I had distilled in the experimental lab in the past. These tiny light purple flowers do not add any floral nuances to the flavour profile, but actually give the gin a mossy depth and honeyed note,” says Hanna.

“Blended with the pine shoots, heather produces a sweet, deep and long-lasting aftertaste. Heather works to make the bold flavour of Crafter’s Wild Forest gin more versatile,” says Hanna, who has a degree in food technology, as she describes how the gin’s flavour profile was engineered.

Returning to the original idea of creating a gin with smoky notes, after much searching, Liviko decided on sea salt smoked on juniper wood. “This sea salt gets its round, smoky flavour from juniper wood as it is burned. In addition to the traditional juniper berry, the gin is thus distinguished by the characteristic smoky notes of burning juniper wood,” explains the beverage architect.

An extraordinary palette of flavours

“The first botanical that you can taste in Crafter’s Wild Forest gin is spruce – that familiar note of the Christmas tree. Then, the body of the gin starts to open – blueberry and sweeter spices: nutmeg, ginger root and orris root, which do not dominate but give the drink its fullness. There is also a slight saltiness in the initial flavour, which aims to balance and smooth the more sharper notes. The smokiness does not strike right off the bat, but reveals itself in the aftertaste, which also has hints of honey and stronger notes of pine resin. These are accompanied by a touch of smoke and tar,” says Hanna describing the gin, the final product of the 27th recipe experiment.

“Evergreen plants are bursting with rich essential oils – these help the plant survive all year round, regardless of bitter frosts or the blazing sun. We all dream of having this kind of endurance,” says Hanna. Since Crafter’s Wild Forest gin gets its character from evergreens packed full of essential oils, the gin is stronger and allows the Nordic flavours to fully emerge.

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