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Gin in the spotlight

Lighthouse Gin distiller Rachel Hall has been involved with the production team for 10 years. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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Lighthouse Gin has gone from strength to strength after taking home a gold at this year’s International Wine and Spirits Competition.

It’s been an amazing journey for distiller Rachel Hall, who has been with the craft gin producer for 10 years.

“It is amazing to see how much it has grown over the years,” she said.

“I just see how far Lighthouse Gin has come and I’m so pleased to still be part of the journey.”

She said to be recognised in the competition, let alone take home a gold with 95 points in the London Dry Gin category, was a “huge achievement”.

It was also made more impressive by the renaissance of gin drinkers which had brought new craft distillers to the global market.

“When we were growing up, everyone had their spirit, and then wine was in a bottle and it became very trendy to drink that.

“Now I think there’s been so much more love going into gin.

“There’s more variety and so people are getting more interested in it.”

To get a gold made all the hard work which goes into making gin worth it, she said.

She attributed this to the fact that every batch had the same attention to detail.

“I make sure the botanicals I use are up to scratch.

“I also use fresh, hand-zested Yen Ben lemons and navel oranges.

“All those beautiful oils which are in the skin go into the pot [compared with using dried lemon peels].”

This contributed to a lovely lemon-curd flavour, she said.

Water was also important and a big part of the process.

Lighthouse gins are blended with water filtered from high in the Remutaka Range which emerges in a spring near Palliser Bay.

Hall said several friends from nearby wineries had come to congratulate her and she celebrated with a “big fat gin and tonic” – made with the award-winning gin of course.

She was looking forward to work beginning on the new Foley Wines development which would house Lighthouse Gin’s new still – a custom-built copper still commissioned from German distillery manufacturer CARL.

While it would allow for increased production, the focus would still be small-batch and people would be able to watch the gin making process.

“It’s going to be really neat that people can see it being made. I just can’t wait.”

Judges described the gin as a “exceptionally balanced and beautifully rounded; a true classic with real class and elegance”.

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