Gin Mare at Destilerías Miquel Guansé


More about Gin Mare at Destilerías Miquel Guansé

Status Operational
Established: 2007
Visitor Policy: Not generally accessible
Tel: Not supplied
Gin Mare, which since September 2002 has been owned by the Brown-Forman Corporation, is made in the small Spanish fishing town of Vilanova i la Geltrú on the Costa Dourada (literally 'golden coast') in a former chapel which sits in the grounds of the family-owned Destilerias MG. What, I hear you ask, is a chapel doing in the grounds of a distillery? Well, the property was originally a monk's retreat, which the Giró Ribot family bought in the 1950s to house their growing drinks business.


Vilanova i la Geltrú

The custom-made replica Florentine still used has a 250-litre capacity and this is filled with 200 litres of botanical maceration, or in the case of the olives, fresh olives and neutral alcohol reduced from 96% alc./vol. to 50% alc./vol. The still takes around one-and-a-half hours to reach the 80°C necessary for distillation to start. Roughly the first five litres of the run are discarded before the heart starts to run and around 105 litres is produced from each batch before switching to the tails, of which there are approximately 90 litres. Each batch takes between four to four-and-a-half hours to distil.

The stainless steel jug used to fill the still has a mark showing 30 litres and is a replica of a jug used at the distillery for over 30 years. The original literally wore out over time and until the new replica jug was made there was a concern that the distillery's recipes would be corrupted by the use of a different measuring jug. It was not so much concern about the measure being exact as the distillers' 'feeling' they had measured the correct quantity: distillation is an art as much as a science and years of experience mean, like driving a car, much of the distillation process is instinctive.

In all, six different distillations are produced and these are carefully blended with neutral spirit and purified water to make Gin Mare. The mixture is bottled a few hundred metres away from where it is distilled, in the main plant next to the chapel.

A Latin motto runs around the stained glass window above the chapel's door, and also appears on the bottle: "Mundus appellatur caelum, terra et mare". It translates as "the world is called heaven, earth, and the sea". This, and the fact the chapel, which now houses the distillery, used to sit on the town's beach, helps to explain the origins of the name Gin Mare, literally 'Sea Gin'. Although the brand's inspiration was 'Mare Nostrum', the modern usage of which embraces the full diversity of Mediterranean cultures.

Incidentally, that Latin motto is not the only embellishment on the otherwise white walls of the chapel. The domed ceiling above the Gin Mare still - which sits in the area where the altar would have been - is covered with a fresco painted by Joachim Mir in 1928 which represents the convergence of heaven, the earth and the sea.