Written by Houston Botanic Garden and posted with permission by Sean Anger. Link to original article here.
Botanic Harvest Gin Project
Botanic Harvest Gin, a limited fall release, features five fresh botanicals, hand-picked from the Culinary Garden and distilled within 24 hours of harvest.
“We use grey owl juniper (the greens and the berries), slash pine, mint, Mexican mint marigold, and lemongrass,” explained Fox & Seeker Founder Sean Anger. “Most people perceive a bright, fresh aroma of citrus and spruce from the pine, lemongrass, and juniper working in harmony.”
However, the depth of flavor these locally harvested botanicals create is not the only motivation behind the collaboration. Since opening its doors in November 2020, Fox & Seeker has attempted to tell the story of distilled spirits from grain to glass.
Grain to Glass
“Our approach is radically different from the rest of the industry. We’re innovating by going back to distilling’s roots. The goal is to use what nature gives us to create great experiences through flavor and community,” said Anger. “Fortunately, the side effect is more than just a cool story. It also keeps fossil fuel impacts minimized since our ingredients come from our neighbors.”
Earlier this year, Anger’s review of the vodka options in Houston revealed that in one local liquor store, there were 159 domestic vodka brands. Despite the many choices, Fox & Seeker was the only brand that could confidently claim to be made from scratch rather than relying on mass-produced fermented corn syrup that most brands start with.
The company’s commitment to using only Texas-grown grains keeps shipping costs down and their carbon footprint in check. Still, previous batches of gin utilized mass-produced botanicals and shipped in from all over the world. When Anger approached Houston Botanic Garden with the goal of creating a gin made primarily with local ingredients, the common cause was clear, and it sparked a series of conversations that led to the new Botanic Harvest Gin.
The Next Step: Garden to Glass
“We knew the Garden aimed to enrich life through discovery, education, and sustainability. I think this collaboration checks all three boxes,” said Anger.
Getting the bottles into stores is not the end of the relationship between the two nature-loving organizations, though. Houston Botanic Garden will receive 10% of the profits from the sale of Botanic Harvest Gin, something Anger described as imperative.
“If our gin doesn’t give back to nature, it is self-serving and will never survive. We want to ensure that the story this gin tells can continue to fuel each of our missions,” he said.
Anticipating a successful run of this inaugural launch, Anger is already eyeing another collaboration soon. He hopes to release the next batch with ingredients harvested from the Garden in the spring or summer of 2024.
“Since everything is seasonal and fresh, the next batch will be different and have unique characteristics that you won’t find in this first release,” said Anger.
In the meantime, he encourages gin lovers to try the new Harvest Botanic Gin before it’s gone, and plan a visit to Houston Botanic Garden and tour the Fox & Seeker Distillery. For Anger, it’s the evolution and resiliency of the plants in the arid zone of the Global Garden Collection that always leave him in awe.