We headed to London’s Eve Bar to check out the perfumery of Theodore Pictish Gin, the inaugural release from Greenwood Distillers.

The wonderful folks from Greenwood Distillers hosted an evening of gin, cocktails and perfume to celebrate their very first release, Theodore Pictish Gin. The brand was founded in 2018 by Barthelemy Brosseau, while the first Theodore gin expression was only released in February this year.

The gin takes its name from the Picts, an ancient tribe that once settled in Ardross in the Scotland’s Northern Highlands. Meanwhile, Theodore de Bry was a 16th century engraver who brought the Picts to life through his art, hence the gin’s name. The spirit was crafted with the help of olfactory expert and perfume designer Barnabé Fillion, so it made perfect sense for the brand to link the gin and perfume, and it was illuminating to understand how the botanicals and their scents interact together in order to fully grasp how the gin works.

Behold the Oud Gimlet!

We were welcomed through swirls of incense with a rather delicious cocktail that we found out was a ‘Celery Spritz’, a mix of Theodore Gin, celery cordial, salted honey and a dash of fizz. There were also three other cocktails which celebrated the botanicals in Theodore Gin, curated by the fabulous team at Eve:

Holy Collins: Theodore Gin, clear lemon, Makrut lime tincture, holy wood, and soda

Sakura Fizz: Theodore Gin, sakura blossom, lemon, and benzoin gum

Oud Gimlet: Theodore Gin, jasmine cordial, and oud essence.

Theodore Pictish Gin contains 16 botanicals including pine, lavender, pomelo and bourbon vetiver. As part of the sensory experience we were given each botanical to smell in its purest form, most of them as oils, as though the gin had been deconstructed into its key components. During this we also had a glass of the gin in hand, and it was fascinating to have the botanicals right in front of us as well as the finished product.

Now, these potent pure scents weren’t all sweet as roses (although we may note that Damask rose was in fact one of them!), some were downright weird and fairly unpleasant. Brand ambassador Keivan Nemati began to explain that “off-flavours are essential to composition”. If you were to separate out the compounds of let’s say, Makrut lime, remove the aromas that didn’t smell nice on their own and take all the ‘best’ or ‘nicest’ scents of, you would perhaps expect it to be some sort of extraordinary Makrut lime scent? You would be mistaken!

Scents that aren’t necessarily pleasant are still crucial when combined with other components. For example, in terms of the gin, bourbon vetiver is not the most alluring scent on its own, though it is exactly the addition of botanicals like vetiver that help others shine through and also bring balance.

Perfume and gin – an atmospheric combination

It was then time to enjoy the rest of the gin and have a chat with founder Barth Brosseau. Needless to say, the packaging of the gin is really quite something. The wonderful bespoke bottle is simultaneously refined and rustic, while the presentation tube is elaborately adorned with two strong and fierce Pictish warriors, surrounded by ornate drawings of the botanicals in the gin, drawn by the fabulous Carlotta Saracco. Brosseau mentioned that the male and female Picts are on opposite sides of the tube to reflect the same balance that is seen in every aspect of the gin.

It was fabulous to see Brosseau talk so passionately about the history that inspired him to create such a gin, as well as his vision for Greenwood Distillers’ future which is set to include Armagnac, mezcal and much more. Currently, half of the gin is produced in France and half is produced in the UK. But the brand is in the process of building its own distillery in Scotland, where it will be closer to the history which inspired Theodore Gin. Watch this space.

Wonderfully refreshing, this stuff…