“It all started with travels,” Ettore Pacilli told Olive Oil Times. “My passion for gin was born in Barcelona during a trip with my wife, and the idea to add extra virgin olive oil arose while driving through Salento. Surrounded by olive groves and wheat fields, I thought I would combine the two products, distilling grain and infusing with extra virgin olive oil.”
A stone’s throw from Foggia Cathedral, Pacilli manages a restaurant and a wine bar which offers over a hundred brands of gin. The latest addition to the large collection is EVO, made with a monovarietal Peranzana produced in the town of Apricena.
“It took many tries before reaching the desired result,” Pacilli revealed about the production process of EVO which, like a traditional gin, starts with the maltation of grain.
Boiled in a certain amount of water, the mash that comes out is distilled until pure alcohol is obtained. This is infused with natural botanicals including juniper, angelica and cardamom, and the result must be subject to a further distillation.
At this point we obtain a spirit with a strong flavor of juniper, that is the pure gin. This is diluted with distilled water which lowers the alcohol content and the infusion with extra virgin olive oil is the last step.
A 60-liter still is used for distillation, and smaller stills of 10 and 2 liters are dedicated to testing.
A special procedure allows the distillate to get intense aromas. Polyphenols are extracted and bind to alcohol leaving aside the fats and keeping the fragrance. With an alcohol content of 42.7 percent by volume, EVO is rich in aromatic compounds that elicit especially the herbaceous attributes of extra virgin olive oil.
“I obtained a very good product but I keep experimenting and creating recipes, first adding different botanicals to the composition of gin and then mixing it with new ingredients,” Pacilli revealed, and suggested us two cocktails where gin EVO is at its the best:
The Olive Oil Martini
Fill a mixing glass with ice and coat with 2 cl (0,67 oz) of Carpano dry vermouth and drain out leaving just the coating on the ice. Add 6 cl (around 2 oz) of EVO gin and stir. Strain into a martini glass and add a few drops of Peranzana olives brine. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Olive Oil Gin and Tonic
Fill a glass to top with ice. Add 4 cl (1.35 oz) of EVO gin and 20 cl (0.67 oz) of 1724 Tonic Water. Add a green apple slice and garnish with a basil leaf.