Peter in Florence: the history behind the London Dry gin with an all-Tuscan flavour

To those in the industry it is a well-known fact that the best juniper berriesin the world come from Tuscany, just like the iris’ root used to blend the juniper berry to the various aromas’ water. When Mr. Patrick Hoffer, an English entrepreneur living in Florence, and a gin enthusiast, found out, he decided to open a gin distillery. Thus, in 2017, a new gin is born: Peter in Florence. The name is a tribute to Mr Hoffer’s father Peter, also a gin enthusiast. The Podere Castellare di Pelago, owned by Mr. Patrizio Pandolfi, old time friend of Mr.Hoffer’s and partner in this venture, was chosen as the perfect place in which to build this exclusive distillery. The farm is an eco-resort situated on the Florentine hills, where the best botanies for the aromatisation of gin grow.

Peter in Florence is also a tribute to the city of Florence, becoming thus the “elegant gin”: at its core, we find the iris, symbol of Florence, of which not only, as tradition demands, the root is used, but also the petals, something much rarer. It is a classic gin, strictly following the London Dry tradition, as well as innovative, mainly due to the usage of 14 different botanicals: apart from the juniper berry and the iris, we find fresh bergamot peel, desiccated lemon peel, rose berries, fresh lavender and rosemary flowers, angelica roots, coriander, bitter almonds. Most of these botanicals are cultivated at the Podere Castellare itself, while the rest come from specialised local organic micro-producers.

It seems that the Podere Castellare was built during the XII-XII century, though Mr. Pandolfi’s parents bought it during the 1950s. Slowly, they transformed the 35 hectares in a successful farm, and, to this day, they grow some of the main gin ingredients, including juniper berries and iris. Subsequently, the farm became an eco-resort and, in those same cellars in which once upon a time wine was produced, we now find the production laboratory, often open to guided tours. Patrick Hoffer and Patrizio Pandolfi thus managed to bring a new life to the farm, and to a tradition that was slowly disappearing.

The area in which Peter in Florence is produced boasts a long gin production tradition: it is in this same area that we find the Abbazia di Vallombrosa (build in 1036), home to the monks who were amongst the first to undertake such a tradition. From 1400 to the Napoleonic suppression, the Vallombrosa monks cultivated medicinal plants and botanicals; to this day, they follow the same recipes used in 1400 and the same maceration process by juniper berries’ infusion.

Both Peter in Florence and the Vallombrosa gins represent Florence, but whilst the latter reflect the past and tradition, Peter in Florence reflects the present and innovation. The Vallombrosa gin is an alcoholate made by fermentation, Peter in Florence is a distillate, following the London Dry tradition. This kind of gin is considered “vintage”, and is distilled using vapour currents that extract the best and more aromatic essential oils, discarding the less perfumed ones.

For the actual production of Peter in Florence, Green Engineering, a company situated in the nearby town of Colle Val d’Elsa, designed a special alembic, exclusively made for Peter in Florence. This is a smaller version of the famous Carterhead alembic used to produce some of the most famous gins in the world. Its design mirrors the 1831 model, but it boasts unique cutting-edge technological characteristics that allow to monitor precisely all the fundamental distillation parameters, such as alcohol volume, temperature and density, thus guaranteeing a quality product. It is also the only alembic in Italy using vapour infusion which allows for a more delicate and natural extraction of the necessary essential oils and aromas.

The recipe, specifically created by master distillers, utilises different distillation processes that skilfully combine liquid and vapour infusion techniques. Thomas Dakin was the first to introduce “Vapour infusion” using the same Carterhead alembic that has been reinterpreted for Peter in Florence using the best available technology, such as numerical fluidodinamics, but keeping the original design that has characterised it for nearly 200 years.

Peter in Florence is already exported to many European countries, such as Sweden, Holland, and Great Britain. In Italy, there is an ever-growing demand, and gin consumption is rising, following the latest motto “drink less but drink quality”.