The process begins with an array of ingredients assembled by the curious mind of PJ Rigney
Slow distillation commences
As wild and unspoiled as rural Drumshanbo itself, this small, delicate flower was one of the very first botanicals added to PJ's secret tabernacle. Covering the fields around Lough Allen like a layer of gossamer snow, the aptly named Meadowsweet, may have been the very thing that awakened PJ's love of all things botanical and ignited that questing spirit to discover more remarkable plant life, the world over!
Journeying to the Orient, PJ stopped briefly in Western India. Always the explorer, he wandered from the madding crowd to a small stand selling sweet, aromatic dishes. Picking up a bowl of shahi tukra, he was hit by the both sweet and savoury flavours of the small, yet powerful, cardamom seed. Herb bag in hand, PJ added yet another asset to his tabernacle.
The basis of all gins, PJ discovered these darkly coloured berries on a windswept plain in Macedonia. Growing wild in the cool, dry soil, he watched as farmers harvested the berries from the squat evergreen shrubs by beating them with sticks. Joining in the fray, PJ was struck by the potent scent given off by the blue fruits. This may well have been what put him on the path to distilling his first gin?
Passing through Bucharest, the Curious Mind was drawn to a street-side vendor serving pork and lamb mititei. After back and forth negotiations, PJ managed to obtain the vendor's family recipe. He learned that the key to the flavor of these "small ones" was the potent coriander seed. It was this citrus-like flavour he knew would blend perfectly into his own recipes.
On the banks of the Rhine, PJ first came across this fragrant root while exploring the German mountainside. A quick conversation with a few locals and PJ was enjoying its flavoursome beauty in a hearty meal of Sauerbraten. This started the wheels in his mind turning to thoughts of the herbaceous gins he could create back home in Drumshanbo.
On his journey east, PJ found himself wandering the mountainous regions of Morocco. In the loose soil of these slopes, he uncovered the purple hues of the bearded iris. But it was not the flower itself that intrigued the curious mind, it was the oils from the root within the earth, that PJ knew would be a must have for his secret tabernacle.
It was in the bustling streets of Kolkata that PJ found himself almost overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds of this city. He found his oasis of calm amidst the bedlam following his nose. Rich scents of sweet spices drew him to an open air spice market. Within all the hues of reds, oranges and yellows, he came upon a tiny, crescent shaped seed. A local merchant told him that these caraway seeds were the key to adding flavor to many traditional dishes. Always a man to mix innovation with tradition, PJ added caraway seed to his growing stock of botanicals.
Before boarding a train from Dongxing, in Southern China to Shanghai, PJ discovered the fragrant potency of these unusually shaped seed pods. Drinking sweet tamarind from a simple clay cup, he discovered the celestial pointed star floating like the North Star in a clear night sky. He pondered if their unique flavour would synergize with the Chinese gunpowder tea, and he got it quite right!
These tiny green pellets are probably what started it all for the curious mind of PJ Rigney. During one of his many voyages into terra incognita, he found himself part of a Moroccan tea ceremony. This ceremony is at the heart of all social gatherings, and was a great honour for PJ to be invited. Here he noticed the small, rolled, green leaves, brought from the Orient since the Tang dynasty of the 7th Century. He knew he needed to add them to his secret tabernacle back in the Shed. So he set off on his next journey to their source: the eastern province of Zejiang, China, and he discovered many an interesting botanical along the way.
During one of his many wanderings through the city of Old Shanghai, PJ came across the Pavilion of Listening to Billows, in the Yu garden. It was here he uncovered several pots in which grew pristine yellow lemons, but not one had been picked! Surely these fruits were not solely ornamental? The locals informed PJ (after many inquiries) that the lemons were gifted to people at Chinese New Year, as a symbol of new beginnings with the promise of happiness. With thoughts of The Shed and Drumshanbo always churning in his mind, PJ could think of nothing he needed more than the promise of new beginnings.
Known in China as the "forbidden fruit", this piqued that curious mind of PJ Rigney. He discovered that it was in fact a hybrid of the Indonesian pomelo and the Jamaican sweet orange, bred by Captain Shaddock in the late 18th Century. PJ felt a real kinship with this fellow, as he too was an explorer with a mind full of curiosity and experimentation.
These limes are grown by the kaffir of Cambodia. It was here that PJ came upon an animist shaman, who told PJ that the limes possessed the power to cleanse bad spirits and bring good luck, and gifted him with a small sack of these verdant talismans. Maybe it was this blessing that kept PJ safe on his many travels?
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