The Three Graces
Greece, a country traditionally associated with home-grown spirits such as ouzo and tsipouro. However, Lila Dimopoulou and partner Scotsman John Cowden were determined to change this and put Greece on the gin map. Through hard work and the collaboration with second-generation distillers Katerina and Hara Katsou - the award-winning Grace gin was born.
For years, Lila had been importing premium drinks from the UK when she and John decided they wanted a spirit to call their own - one that celebrated the lovely and unique Greek botanicals. They met sisters Katerina and Hara at Avantes in Chalkida - and the rest they say, is history.
"We had decided that if we were going to create a Greek gin then it had to be fantastic, or we would not do it at all."
Inspired by Greek mythology, Grace is named after the Graces of ancient Greek literature. The daughters of Zeus, these three legendary women brought their own distinct characteristics to the human realm - joy, beauty and elegance - just as Lila, Katerina and Hara have combined forces to bring people a premium gin that exudes all these attributes.
After months of experimentation, the women settled on a recipe featuring 13 botanicals, including cardamom, coriander, cassia, angelica and orris root, lemon and orange peels and pink pepper. The most unique ingredient in Grace Gin has to be kritamos, an edible wild plant often referred to as sea fennel or rock samphire that grows along the rock Mediterranean coastline. "During the distillation process, we decided kritamos added a very distinctive element." explains Lila. "However, this botanical turned out to be a blessing and a curse. It only grows for a few weeks a year, so it's difficult in terms of planning for production." Thankfully these women are content making delicious authentic Greek gin and with no grand plans to produce industrial quantities, time allows for their labour-intensive techniques to the distillation process. Using vapour infusion, a technique used in the perfume industry, Grace gin is left to rest in the tank for a minimum of 30 days.
"We don't take shortcuts and we don't take the easy route. There have been times when we've almost run out of product, but our distillers would never bottle anything that's been in the tank for less time. Our gin is 100% distilled, so there's no alcohol added, and although it's 45.7% ABV, it's quite smooth because of all the geeky things we do, such as light filtration."
As the country that founded the Olympic Games, it seems fitting that Grace Gin has picked up many medals and trophies at competitions around the world. To mention a few:
Gold medal, Europe Wine and Spirits Trophy 2020
Silver medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2020
Master award in Ultra-Premium Gin Category, Luxury Spirits Masters 2019
Distilled Gin category winner, Gin Guide Awards 2018
Setting out with the intention of showing the world what Greece has to offer, the team at Grace have certainly done this. With March the 25th, 2021 marking the 200th anniversary of Greek independence, we urge you to join these inspirational women and raise a glass of Grace gin to a bright future.
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