The Portraits - episode 5
We are always looking for the right balance between fashion and heritage in our collections. We source quality materials from around the world, add a sense of craftsmanship and use traditional techniques of making clothes. We have the utmost respect for craftsmanship and we admire people who use traditional techniques in their work.
In our portrait series you will meet craftsmen who we have met on our journey.
With his entrepreneurial approach and background as an illustrator, the distance from idea to execution has never been far for Uffe Skaaning. After many years working as a bartender, Uffe started his career as a producer, creating an organic mixer brand that could match the high-end liquor brands that started to emerge.
Uffe lives with his wife Sara, an artist, in Askeby on Møn - a popular place during summer, where thousands of tourists visit Møn because of the spectacular and wild nature of this Danish region. By coincidence, Uffe and Sara found out that juniper is growing wild on Møn, and they had an idea: “Is it possible to create gin made with local botanicals, foraged exclusively on Møn?”
In this episode of our portrait series, we have travelled to Askeby for a talk about gin, nature and old sailors.
Uffe, tell us about your gin?
Well, it all started when we found out that there was wild juniper growing here on Møn. We didn’t want our gin to be strange, just because it was made of local botanicals. What we first thought was juniper actually turned out to be something completely different, but we found it eventually. In the process, we consulted a botanical expert to find out what botanicals could be used and when to forage them. The result is a classic gin solely made of herbs, plants, roots and berries from the wild nature of Møn…
…Our gin contains eleven different botanicals with juniper being the most important one. We further use tansy with a taste like cinnamon, lemon balm that is our replacement for citrus, chalk from Møns Klint, mugwort with a peppery taste and sea arrowgrass, which tastes like coriander. With these ingredients, we have created a classic gin with botanicals that grow right outside our door in the Danish nature. What most people consider to be weed has become our key to success.
What started in 2016 as an experiment has now evolved into several variations of locally produced gin and snaps with more to come.
How do you go from nature to bottle?
Our botanicals are carefully selected and handpicked at the very moment when the taste is strongest and best. We make extracts while the botanicals are still fresh - in order to secure an authentic, high-quality produce every year. When we have foraged the entire juniper needed, we bring it to our distillery in Askeby. We infuse it with alcohol and let it rest for at least three months, whereupon we extract the flavour, and this very dark and powerful black liquid becomes the clearest and finest juniper distillate - the most important ingredient in our gin.
What is the hardest part of being a gin distillery?
The hardest part is that the different botanicals have different harvest times, which can vary depending on the summer weather. We forage rose hip buds in June, balm in July, juniper in September and sloe berries in October…
…The weather on the specific foraging day is also important. It is for instance not possible to forage juniper during rain, since juniper gets really sticky when wet. The harvest time of juniper is in September, which is a rainy month but luckily it hasn’t rained on any of our juniper foraging days. Once, we were so lucky to be surrounded by black clouds and we could see the lightning in the distance, but we were standing in the centre of the storm and stayed dry…
...The botanicals, which we harvest, are also very different in strength, taste and aroma - it all depends on how much the sun has been shining during summer. So, each ingredient can change a lot from season to season, meaning that we may need more of some botanicals and less of others to achieve the same taste experience as previous years. This is what makes the Isle of Møn gin unique and a truly wonderful experience – just like the beautiful nature of Møn.
Do you forage everything yourselves?
We are very fortunate to have our local community help us out. We also have people coming from afar, helping us with our foraging events. It’s a great opportunity for people to enjoy and experience the wonderful nature of Møn. Each participant receives a bottle of gin for helping out, and not just any gin - they receive a bottle of the gin, which they are foraging for. We are very thankful for people helping us, and we try our best to make it a great experience with lunch and coffee during the day.
The Navy Strength Gin - what is that about?
Navy Strength Gin is actually an old version of gin with a much higher alcohol percentage than most gin brands on the market today. If we go back 200 years, it was really hard to determine the alcohol percentage in liquor, since the hydrometer, refractometer and other instruments for measuring alcohol percentages weren’t invented or commonly accessible. So, there was a lot of watering down of liquor in order to create more profit. Sailors could simply drink from the captain’s drinks cabinet and refill the bottles with water without anybody noticing...
...So, a simple method was invented: If you poured Navy Strength Gin over gunpowder and the powder didn’t ignite, the gin had been watered down to less than 57% and was therefore “underproof”. Back then, cheating was practically the same as stirring up a mutiny and one can only pray that God had mercy on the person responsible for the gin, which turned out to be underproof...
…A nice side effect of Navy Strength Gin was that it could be stored together with the cannons and gunpowder below deck. Should the bottles break during a storm and the powder be soaked with gin, the ship would still be fit for battle.
On the pictures Uffe is wearing our:
- Aero Selfedge Waistcoat
- Fano Denim Shirt
- Vinci Jeans
- Sailor Coat
Want to know more about Isle of Møn Spirits?
Visit Uffe at: Fanefjordgade 12, 4792 Askeby, Denmark