'Occitan' is Bordiga's London Dry Gin, which they have made continuously since 1900 – Italy's oldest known gin recipe.
It has a classic juniper lift, with a fragrant and quite perfumed nose that's accented with distinct orange and lemon rind notes. In fact, there are just six botanicals used in this gin: the wild juniper gathered from the isolated valleys of the Maritime Alps, angelica root, cardamom, coriander, and lemon and orange peel.
This is at once classic and distinctively individual, with the purity and intensity of the botanicals giving this remarkable cut and clarity.
A great mixing gin, but also one with the detail and finesse to justify a martini.
Founded in 1888, Boridga's motto, 'la tradizione è il nostro futuro', which translates to 'tradition is our future', neatly sums up this great artisan distiller from near Cuneo, in the foothills of the Maritime Alps.
Pietro Bordiga was a bar owner in Turin before he relocated to Cuneo at the end of the 19th century, with the distillery just out of town on a road leading into the mountains. This location was essential for Pietro, as the Occitan valleys are home to a vast array of herbs and other botanical ingredients, essential to making traditional vermouth, aperitivi and amaro, as well as wild juniper that became the basis of Italy's oldest continuously produced gin. As a side fact, although the English have appropriated it and the Dutch lay claim to its origins, gin is most likely an Italian invention, dating back to the 11th century, with monks (as usual) responsible for combining juniper with spirit.
Even today, most of Bordiga's botanicals grow wild in the varying valleys of the Maritime Alps, with the unique, elevated environment ideally suited to developing and retaining the essential oils. All the wild, and naturally organic, botanicals are still collected by hand at distinctly different moments, so as to capture the best expression of their individual natures, whether they be the root, leaves or flowers.
They are then dried either in the open or on drying racks, with the elevation and cool of the macroclimate preserving pristine aromatics. Extraction of these aromatics is achieved through maceration in triple-distilled grain alcohol in Bordiga's original wood-burning copper still, with each botanical steeped separately, so as to ensure the optimal expression, as timing differs to target the sweet spot for each.
And although tradition is essential at Bordiga, so too is innovation, with new products crafted using the raw materials that are characteristic of this artisan distiller.