From Botanicals to the Bottle

28 Jun 2018
2 min read
Barb Grossenbacher recalls the story of how Swiss brand Edelwhite, went from a thesis project to an award-winning small batch gin producer.

“I am from Canada and moved to Switzerland after following my heart to the Swiss Alps from the Canadian Rockies. I have worked in the hospitality industry for the past 30-some years.

“Edelwhite Gin began as a thesis project for my WSET diploma as Weinakademiker in Rust, Austria. I named my project ‘From Botanicals to the Bottle’. My goal was to forage as many botanicals from our pre-alpine area in central Switzerland, distill and bottle them, producing a gin representative of the Unesco Biosphere where I live. However, for a woman born in Canada, living here for 30-some years, to produce Gin rather than schnapps in this area was suspicious and a very new endeavour to say the least.

“Three people assisted me in my project. My friend, Sandra, an aromatherapist and medicinal plant specialist was my inspiration for the recipe. My son, Mark was responsible for corporate design. Bruno, a local traveling distiller put it all together to finally be bottled. My son came up with the name, Edelwhite. Edelweiss is the Swiss national flower. “Edel” translated means noble, luxurious and pure – just what I wanted my gin to be. White is my maiden name. Edel and White- Swiss and Canadian- German and English- yes, very me indeed.

“Edelwhite Gin contains 27 botanicals, and 14 we gather ourselves in nearby fields, moors and mountainside or can be found growing in our gardens. Local female farmers assist in the forage and planting of our ingredients. We have begun working with a local tropical garden center who will soon supply us with lemongrass, orris- and angelica root.

“A German word, ‘Duftbotschaft’ meaning message of fragrance, is an important aspect for us to communicate to consumers. Edelwhite should appeal to the sense of smell as well as taste, with a esoteric effect on people. The result is a gin with a bold combination of flavors. Juniper first, followed by a synergy of zesty fruit, fresh herbs, light soft floral notes and earthy spiciness.

“We not only forage and in part grow more than half of our botanicals ourselves (tendency rising), we also bottle and label Edelwhite in our own town, Entlebuch. Distillation is done on a mobile traditional copper pot distillation unit from a third generation distilling family.

“Once ready, the Edelwhite Gin is presented in a fabric bag that is printed with Edelweiss flowers. These bags are made at an institution for disabled children where my daughter works and they receive the proceeds from sales.

“Edelwhite is not necessarily a feminine Gin, but it is definitely one made by women. I believed in my project from Day 1, and think that ‘women’s intuition’ played a major part in it’s success. The message that we attempt to convey to people is the following: not only do we take into consideration the flavour aspect of Edelwhite Gin, but also the aromatherapeutic concept or ‘message of fragrance’. On top of that, the medicinal characteristics are of importance, and finally the balance and synergy of botanicals together which create complexity. We follow the Maria Thun biodynamic lunar calendar for both planting, foraging and distillation dates.

“To say we have exceeded our expectations is an understatement. Edelwhite Gin has received 6 awards of recognition at both national and international competitions, from London and Berlin to San Francisco for both our 42 and 57%abv Navy Strength Gins.

Our promise to ourselves? To remain authentic. Our secret? Passion is our main botanical.”