As the link between kitchen and bar strengthens and their approaches to ingredients and flavour further align, certain highly-acclaimed chefs have switched their aprons for lab coats to dabble in distilling and brewing. Looking across whisky, gin, beer and beyond, we’ve championed 10 bottlings created with a chef’s sensibilities…
I’ve heard it said that if you want to know what the next cocktail trend will be, you should look at techniques used 10 years ago in fine dining kitchens across the world. This might sound like an insult on paper, but it’s a testament to how rapidly the industry has progressed, and the immensely high standard it’s held up to. Today’s bartenders approach their creations like artists, crafting complex, thought-provoking drinks that could rival the finest Michelin-starred dish – or better yet, find a place on the table alongside it.
Developing a botanical combination for a spirit, or a mash for a beer involves inventing a recipe after all, so it’s unsurprising that celebrated distillers, blenders and brewers have explored collaborations with cooks. Some chefs have even made the leap from dish to distillery full-time. Take Copenhagen’s Empirical Spirits, founded in 2017 by Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen – before turning their eyes to spirits, the duo headed up Noma, which won the title of world’s best restaurant a casual five times. No biggie.
Looking to the future, we can only foresee more collaboration between the worlds of food and drink. The 10 distilleries and breweries that follow flung open their doors to celebrated chefs and together, they cooked up some seriously special boozes…
Salcombe Distilling Company’s Voyager Series
The Devon-based producers of Salcombe Gin have partnered with not one but three culinary geniuses for its ongoing Voyager Series, a collection of limited edition bottlings developed in collaboration with a winemaker or chef. To date, Michael Caines (not to be confused with the star of Get Carter and Jaws: The Revenge), Mark Hix, and Monica Galetti have flexed their botanical brains to design a characterful gin unique to them.
Anspach & Hobday x Tom Sellers
Michelin-starred chef Tom Sellers – the man behind London’s Restaurant Story – teamed up with Anspach & Hobday to create farmhouse-style ale Story Saison, which is infused with clementine preserves made in his very own restaurant kitchen. Incidentally, he’s worked with the craft brewery before on a smoked brown ale.
The Dalmore x Massimo Bottura
Earlier this year, single malt Scotch whisky The Dalmore joined forces with Massimo Bottura – Michelin-starred chef and owner of revered Modena-based eatery Osteria Francescana – to release The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years (l’anima means ‘soul’ in Italian, FYI). The liquid combines whiskies aged in small-batch bourbon barrels, Graham’s vintage Port pipes, and González Byass casks that formerly contained 40-year-old Pedro Ximénez Sherry. Phwoar.
Cornish Gin x Tom Brown
Produced at The Wrecking Coast Distillery, juniper-forward Cornerstone Rare Cornish Gin has been developed to complement the dishes at Tom Brown’s fish-centric Hackney Wick restaurant, Cornerstone. Flavour-wise, we’re talking “generous coriander notes, strong citrus influences” and an injection of hedgerow rosehip and rowan berries – a tip of the hat to the gin’s Cornish roots.
Grey Goose x Alain Ducasse
Grey Goose cellar-master Francois Thibault teamed up with Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse to create a “gastronomic vodka” for the brand’s 20th anniversary – approaching the spirit as a dish rather than as a liquid. The result, Grey Goose Interpreted By Ducasse, is made by blending distillates of French wheat that have undergone light, medium and heavy toasting.
Hepple Gin x Valentine Warner
When TV chef and forager Valentine Warner partnered with Moorland Spirit Company to create Hepple Gin, he enlisted tried-and-tested culinary techniques to achieve the flavour he sought – including vacuum distillation and a CO2 extraction process. The final recipe contains three types of juniper, Amalfi lemon, liquorice, douglas fir and bog myrtle, among others.
Cooper King Distillery x The Black Swan
Last year, Yorkshire’s Cooper King Distillery created a series of bespoke distillates for nearby Michelin-starred restaurant The Black Swan using flowers and plants grown in the venue’s kitchen garden. Marigold, lemon verbena, fennel pollen and chicory root were picked, delivered to the distillery and vacuum-distilled on the same day to create four variants, known collectively as Oldstead Garden Spirits.
Sharp’s Brewery x Rick Stein
TV chef and restaurateur Rick Stein created Chalky’s Bite – made from Cornish fennel, Cornish malted barley and three different hops – at Cornwall’s Sharp’s Brewery, naming the bottling after his beloved Jack Russell Terrier. Unfortunately Chalky paid his dues at the great dog park in the sky before the bottling could hit the shelves, so the beer, designed to be paired with seafood, was released in tribute. Excuse me, I’ve got something in my eyes…
Slingsby Gin x Michael O’Hare
You might be wondering where the all the madcap, slightly bonkers ingredients are. Thankfully, British chef Michael O’Hare – of Michelin-starred restaurant The Man Behind The Curtain – and Yorkshire-based Slingsby Gin have served up the goods with a savoury gin containing local botanicals, Exmoor caviar and even more bizarrely, plankton.
Hackney Brewery x Pip Lacey
Great British Menu 2017 winner Pip Lacey and long-time business partner Gordy McIntyre got together with the good folks at London’s Hackney Brewery to design a unique beer for the opening of their first eatery, Hicce, a wood-fired restaurant in King’s Cross. Smooth and light, Hicce by Hackney Session IPA is hopped like an IPA but lower in alcohol.