This week’s shiny new recruit is so new to the market that we just couldn’t wait to get our paws on it… and it’s all in a good cause, too! Say hello to Clouded Leopard Gin! Words: Victoria Sayers
We’re generally cat people here at MoM Towers. From the teeniest tabby up, we’re all on-board for feline-related content. Gastropub owner and chef Will Phillips seems to be no different, except his kitty of choice is the endangered clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa to be sciencey). He loves the cat so much, he’s launched an actual gin to raise money in its honour!
Clouded Leopard Gin doesn’t just do good, though; it’s pretty tasty, too. Botanicals are sourced from Southern Asia, home to the cautious leopardy one, and distilled in Bristol. This gin is produced from British wheat spirit using one-shot distillation in 30-litre copper pot stills. 15% of the profit will be donated to the Born Free Foundation, which works to protect the clouded leopard (if you do the sums, that means at least £1 from each bottle will go to the fund). It is important to Phillips that the quality of the product’s botanicals is as powerful as the message that the gin will deliver.
Typically a rainforest resident, the clouded leopard can be found in Southeast Asia, just like the botanicals in this lively, energetic spirit. We have the classic London dry juniper (obviously), with coriander seeds, angelica root, cassia bark, tropical mango, fragrant black pepper and lemon zest. The recipe is then macerated in the wheat spirit for 24 hours pre-distillation. Basically, this gin is glorious with a slice of fresh mango if you can, and meets with a paw-some cause.
We need to address the design of the bottle, too. Its frosted (or cloudy) glass features a silhouette of a leopard striding across a branch, designed by Sarah Rock and illustrated by Jonathan Gibbs. The wax seal is particularly pretty, with a print of leaves fluttering down. It would very happily star in a gin shelfie. Purrfect.
But what of the clouded leopard itself? It is a tiny carnivore, only measuring around 6ft from nose to the tip of its tail, weighing up to 50lbs. Named for its stunning spotted coat, it’s rarely even seen in the wild due to its mysterious habits. The cat is listed as vulnerable with populations decreasing rapidly due to habitat loss from industrial logging and land development. It’s also illegally hunted for its beautiful coat, and some wrongly believe clouded leopard bones and teeth have healing powers… Heartbreaking.
“The clouded leopard is a fantastic and elusive animal rarely seen in the wild, and in grave danger of extinction,” said Phillips “I really want to help save this fantastic animal in its natural habitat and riding the crest of the gin wave sounds like an ideal place to start.” We love gin. We love leopards. Combine them, and you’re winning!
A fun fact to round off on: Malaysians call this cute cat the ‘tree tiger’. Possibly because of the unique markings, or the fact it’s double jointed, allowing for easy tree climbing mayhem. Bit envious, TBH.
Clouded Leopard Gin tasting notes:
Nose: Soft fruit, lots of tropical mango transitioning to spicy pepper with zesty lemon.
Palate: Juniper berries, citrusy lemon, Love Hearts sweets, mango and peppery spicy notes.
Finish: Medium-length and pleasantly warming.
Clouded Leopard Gin is priced at £34.95, and a Phillips-approved serve involves Fever-Tree Indian Tonic, garnished with fresh mango and black pepper. You can even grab some now in time for 4 August, which is of course International Clouded Leopard Day!