Douglas Fir Gin: A Pine Needle Botanical Explained

Douglas Fir Gin with Gin and Tonic

Why This Tree 🌲?

I first discovered this amazing tree when I read about it in the BBC Good Food magazine which said it was an up and coming ingredient for chefs.  Not knowing what they look like Rich and I went off to learn all about them.  For the next few weeks while Rich was driving around I would have my eye open for this tree.  We would stop in random places and use our new knowledge to try and find them.  We had some odd looks as Rich and I nibbled on the pine needles 👀

Ironically after searching for a while we found them just outside Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire which is where I hail from.  We nervously drove up to the farm to ask if we could “pick” the pine needles and were pleasantly surprised to get a very friendly yes!  What followed was getting my car stuck at various locations on the huge and beautiful estate.  Thankfully we now have a 4×4 truck which is much better for such excursions and also has much more space than my tiny Fiat 😊 

The Douglas Fir tree has a specially shaped pine cone which is one way to identify it.  The other way is to have a nibble on the pine leaves themselves.  We quickly discovered that each tree tastes different.  Plus the new and old growth each have their distinctive tastes.  Some trees we dismissed, as although beautiful they didn’t taste right.  We now have a number of trees that we love the taste of.  It ranges from lemon, to grapefruit to peach!  With a lovely piney aroma that whenever I smell it I am transported back to the forest 🌲

It’s a very large tree, like a huge Christmas tree so we head out with our extended loppers.  We take a few branches off each tree and then we pull all the pine needles off each branch.  Not my favourite task I have to admit, but well worth it and some dance tunes help us along 👊

How We Make It

To get the lovely flavours into our gin we cold distill the needles.  This keeps the bright citrus notes intact.  If we were to heat it in a traditional copper still then the result would be too bitter.  We never flavour or infuse our gins, we always distill.  This means we have a clear gin at the end of the process and a lovely bright taste.

To cold distill we use a rotary evapourator, a piece of equipment that is such fun to use.  It extracts the flavour out of anything you put in it without cooking it.  So, that includes our Kaffir Lime Leaves, Lemongrass, Earl Grey Tea, Cucumber, Sugar Snap Peas, Mint and of course our Kimchi!

We started off with a 5 Litre  when we were based in our converted garage in Oxfordshire. We then moved up this this 50 Litre beast when we moved to our unit in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. We then “twist” the extract with our hot copper distilled gin – hence Twisted Spirits!

50 litre rotary evaporator

GnT Recipe

I’d always suggest trying any new gin neat so you can truly know what it tastes like.  Mixers change the taste profile and I think it’s nice to try it in its true form. Not essential of course.

For a Gin and Tonic recipe we recommend serving with either a plain tonic or Franklin and Sons Grapefruit and Bergamot tonic.  This works well with the grapefruitiness of the Douglas Fir while allowing the pine flavour to come through.  Add a slice of red or pink grapefruit to finish the look.

Check out more Gin and Tonic recipes and tips on our blog post.

Douglas Fir Gin and Tonic

Cocktail Recipes

We have a full gin blog post on a delicious Spiced Negroni where this unusual gin meets the lovely spices of Christmas.

Alternatively what not try our Twisted Paloma? A take on the Mexican classic cocktail that will impress your guests.

Twisted Gin Paloma Cocktail

Bottles and Hampers

This Douglas Fir Gin is available in cute 5cl mini gin bottles, 20cl, 50cl and our large 70cl.  It also comes in our mini gift pack alongside our Earl Grey gin and Kaffir Lime and Lemongrass gin.  We have the same gift pack also available in our 20cl gin selection box where you get a saving on buying all three bottles separately.  Finally, if you are after a gin Christmas hamper then we’ve curated a Festive Hamper which includes tonics a garnish and other goodies.

Douglas Fir Gin

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