Bishop’s Gin is a new London Dry Gin that has just been launched on the Belgian market. Created by Thierry Ponet, founder of Ponet Spirits and Matthieu Chaumont of Brussels cocktail bar Hortense, it is a gin that is steeped in tradition while being innovative at the same time.
The gin with its distinct label designed by Stranger and Stranger is already competing for the best packaging in the World’s Packaging Design Society.
This new gin is the result of a collaboration and a discussion between master cocktail maker Matthieu Chaumont who was on the watch for a versatile gin and Thierry Ponet who wanted to revive his family’s anestral genever craftsmanship.
Ponet lived in London for 15 years before moving back to Belgium around two years ago. “Thierry wanted to relaunch the distillation activity of his family but we reflected that it would be better to create a gin rather than genever.
The name Bishop’s Gin comes from the fact that when they were looking at Thierry’s family history they found a bishop named Ponet who formed part of the family. He was a priest but he wanted priests to be able to marry. He finally ended up leaving the priesthood to get married. “He respected tradition but wanted to change things and embrace modernity. With our gin, we are also loyal to the tradition of gin but at the same time we are in 2016 and we have tried to also evolve it despite remaining faithful to the tradition. There is therefore a lot of parallel’s with Bishop Ponet,” Matthieu Chaumont told Food and Wine Gazette.
Making gin today is not easy particularly because there is a revival of gin and there is a saturated market.
Matthieu however believes that while there are many great products on the market, he could not find a gin which fitted his image of gin. “Gin is a neutral alcohol with juniper berries. There are many good gins but it seemed as if the juniper berries were non-existent. We wanted to create something which respected the definition of gin and which had notes of juniper berries.”
Matthieu was behind the creation of the recipe and also supervised the production at the Thames Distillery in London. “We went to London and visited many distilleries but we finally decided to work with Charles Maxwell who is a ‘historian’ when it comes to gin.”
Both Thierry and Matthieu are extremely proud of the label which was designed by Stranger and Stranger. Thierry told Food and Wine Gazette that when the designers heard the story, they immediately had the idea and the theme for the label. “It was as if they were waiting for our product,” he said.
You can learn the story of the Bishop Ponet and the Gin through it label. “You can spend a lot of time looking at the label and discovering new things,” Matthieu said. “The label depicts Belgium and also uses the Pelican as the symbol of the Ponet family. The bishop is also holding a ring (he got married) and the nasturtium flower which is one of the nine ingredients that are used to make in gin.”
“This flower is now used a lot in the gastronomy world,” Matthieu told Food and Wine Gazette.
Among the ingredients of Bishop’s Gin you can find juniper berries, the nasturtium flower, lemon, coriander, almonds and lemongrass.
Creating the recipe took long. “First we had a theoretical reflection on how to make the gin, what it should taste like, what was the message behind the product and how would people perceive it. Once we had the idea we tried to convert it into a recipe. From the start we had the direction and we then worked on fine-tuning the end result,” Matthieu said.
He created over a dozen prototypes in bottles without counting the many additional variations. Even to choose the distillery took a lot of research. “We visited many but what was important for us was the human factor and also the vision of the distillery. “Charles is a historian when it comes to gin. He is also able to trace the origin of the produce which is also fair trade which was important for the vision of our product.”
Matthieu believes that the unique selling point of Bishop’s Gin is its versatility. “What I wanted to create was a gin that was versatile and that could be used in many cocktails. People who want to buy a gin for home should not have to buy four types of gin to make four different type of cocktails. The gin we created can be used to make a Negroni, a gin and tonic or a Frank 75.
So is gin the only product that Ponet Spirits will produce, I ask. “We are working on a bitter – a vermouth. And we are also looking at producing a Mescal from Mexico and we also want to create a ready made cocktail in a bottle,” he said.
Bishop’s Gin has just been launched on the Belgian market and will be available in speciality wine and spirits shops. The aim is to eventually export to the UK and France and then worldwide.
Two cocktail recipes using Bishop’s Gin
- 2cl fresh lemon juice
- 1cl homemade lemongrass and blueberry syrup
- 2cl verbena infused Lillet
- 5cl Bishop’s Gin
Mix all the ingredients in a shaker and service in a champagne glass.
- 3cl French red vermouth
- 2cl Cynar
- 3cl Bishop’s Gin
- 1 Nasturtium flower
- 4 peppercorns
Mix the vermouth with the Cynar and the Bishop’s Gin and pour in a whisky tumbler. Dress the cocktail with a Nasturtium flower and the peppercorns.