How to make your own Gin in Palma
Remember that line from the movie Casablanca? The one when Rick Blaine (Humph) says, “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.”? Well, I wouldn’t describe the new Mallorca Gin Distillery in Palma as a ‘gin joint’ – but it is all about the spirit that has inspired countless quotes from people in all walks of life… from movie characters to Sir Winston Churchill. And, funnily enough, we walked into the place and found Nofre and Cati there too, who own the excellent Ca’n Nofre decorating store in Manacor. If they spoke English, we’d have quoted Rick, for sure.
Gins from Mallorca
The Boss and I don’t drink a lot of gin (how restrained of us) but, when we do have the occasional G&T, it’s usually based on one of Mallorca’s excellent artisan gins. Among those we’ve tried are: Gin Eva (their olive gin is a delicious revelation and my current favourite); Onze (distilled at the winery Can Vidalet); Cabraboc; Suau (which also makes brandy), and Gran Hotel Son Net’s strawberry gin.
Now we have a new addition to our drinks cupboard: a gin that we made ourselves. We haven’t set up a still in the garage at home (we don’t have one – either still or garage). But we did visit Palma’s new British-owned Mallorca Gin Distillery in the popular district of Santa Catalina – and I’d highly recommend it to any gin fan.
The Gin Distillery Experience
We went for the three-hour Gin Distillery Experience, which began with a well-mixed Tanqueray G&T (natch) and introduction to the spirit by our Liverpudlian guide, ‘Cocktail Kate’ Meehan. She’s a bubbly character with a superb sense of humour and, being a member of the UK’s Gin Guild, knows pretty much everything you could wish to know about her (and our) favourite spirit. This part of the experience takes place in the bar area at the front of the Mallorca Gin Distillery premises.
Kate then led us to a corner housing a traditional copper still (and boxes of new bottles waiting to be filled), where she explained the process of distilling. After one of three gin cocktails served during the three hours, it was time for some real hands-on fun. We climbed a few steps to a lab-like area at the back of the premises, where bench-style tables were set up with a number of small copper stills. I had a flashback to my fear of Bunsen burners in my school science lab but Steve and Ross, owners of the Mallorca Gin Distillery, took care of lighting the burners under the stills.
Blend, blend, blend
Working two people to each still, we set about creating our own gin. The shelves on one wall of this area were loaded with containers of flavouring ingredients from which to choose. A printed sheet provided some helpful guidance about flavours and the quantities needed of any chosen ingredient (surprisingly small). But it was down to us – with the benefit of Kate’s chat about the flavours (and the gin essentials) – to create our own blend.
Whilst our group’s creations were distilling, it was back to the bar for a gin-based cocktail and some pintxos to soak up some of the alcohol. During the event we had three gin-based cocktails:
- Spanish 75 – Beefeater, lemon, sugar, cava, lemon oils
- Stone-Fruit Slush – Beefeater, Aperol, Peach liquor, peach pureé, orange oils
- Army & Navy – Beefeater, lemon, almond sugar, lemon oils
Name and seal
Once the gin was ready and poured into bottles, Kate gave us all card labels with string, on which to create a name for our own gin. The Boss and I had shared a still, so produced the same gin, but we gave our own bottles separate names. Mine was Jan’s Gin – not very creative (that’s what a few gin-based drinks does for me), but The Boss was inspired to name his IN.DI.GIN.(H)OUS. We each sealed our bottle tops by dipping them into hot wax, and it was then time for our final cocktail (Army & Navy), before we left, clutching our unique gin creations.
We loved the Gin Distillery Experience and the satisfaction of creating our unique gin that we can offer to family and friends who come to visit. I certainly recommend this as something different to do in Mallorca. I would, however, suggest that you don’t drive after your gin-fuelled visit!
The cost is 120 € per individual or, for two people, 180 €. It sounds a lot of money, but I think it’s great value for the experience.
Mallorca Gin Distillery also offers a Gin & Tonic Masterclass, at 50 € per person.
Photos by Mallorca Gin Distillery / Jan Edwards