Anty Gin just might make your skin crawl. This joint venture between Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen and the world’s first ever gin tailor, The Cambridge Distillery, is a gin created using an incredibly unique ingredient.
“Formica rufa, the red wood ant, are found in forests around the Northern Hemisphere, and are inspiringly sophisticated creatures. They communicate using a host of chemical pheromones, which allow them to form immense colonies housed in large mounds, and they defend their complex communities by producing formic acid in their abdomens and spraying it in the direction of any invader. Luckily for us, these very compounds hold great delicious potential.”
“Formic acid (the simplest organic carboxylic acid, with the chemical formula HCOOH) is a very reactive compound in alcohol, serving as an agent for producing various aromatic esters. Furthermore, many of their chemical pheromones are the same volatile molecules, which we perceive as aroma. Through distillation of these wood ants, we can explore the tasty universe of these naturally occurring molecules and reactions, capturing the flavours of this fascinating species.”
The clear bottles and graphics give the illusion that it simply fades from clear to an opaque black, but upon closer inspection you can see illustrations of individual ants crawling up the bottles. As a lab that conducts experiments, the labels appear to have been written and pasted on the bottle in a laboratory, designating the batch number and alcohol content. The Anty Gin name stands out at the top of the bottle in a crisp, modern black font, and from afar it could look like any average gin on the shelf. It’s when you look closer that you realize there is a rich story behind the spirit.
“Each bottle of Anty Gin will contain the essence of approximately sixty-two wood ants. To support the distinctive flavour of the wood ant distillate and the characteristics of Bulgarian juniper berries, we have selected a handful of prime-quality, wild springtime botanicals to add complexity to the final blend: wood avens (Geum urbanum), nettle (Urtica dioica), and alexanders seed (Smyrnium olusatrum). In order to ensure exceptional quality of base alcohol, only 100% organic grown English wheat has been used for the spirit, and every distillation is carried out just one litre a time. From foraging to bottling and labelling by hand with The Cambridge Distillery’s 1924 typewriter, every step of the process has been done with a dedication to craft.”