We’ve brewed, balanced and bottled a delicious new gin, to give our visitors a memorable taste of Chester Zoo!
Infused with hand-picked ingredients from right here at the zoo, that also feed our animals, our Chester Zoo gin is truly special, and will be sure to tickle the taste buds of any gin lover.
“The concept for the gin came from walking around the vast and amazing landscape of the zoo, taking in all the different gardens, varieties and species of plants that we have at our fingertips. Working closely with our botany and horticulture departments led to an organic idea of how we could further utilise what we have around us.”
Tom Culshaw – Senior Food and Beverages Manager
Located on the outskirts of Edinburgh, The Secret Garden is home to 7.5 acres of land, packed with fragrant herbs. Owner of The Secret Garden and herb specialist, Hamish, brought his expertise to the zoo, advising on what ingredients would bring the gin to life. As natural farmers, using no chemicals and truly valuing nature, their beliefs and support of conservation are closely aligned with our own, making this the perfect partnership.
Tom added: “We took a lot of guidance from Hamish and his team, spending time at the zoo with our Curator of Botany and Horticulture; carefully selecting and choosing which botanicals would give us a bespoke product, and what would highlight the work the teams do to feed and enrich the animals. We wanted to make sure the ingredients would stand out and give us an exclusive taste profile. There was obviously taste testing… but we were happy to suffer for our craft!”
“Chester Zoo Gin is like no other gin. It has been inspired by all of the incredible animals and is made up of 11 botanicals we have specifically picked from the zoo banana leaves, chicory flowers and dandelion, all of which are used to feed the animals – so I suppose you could say the food that feeds the animals will become the spirit to fulfill your taste buds!”
Owner of The Secret Garden, Hamish
Hamish added: “The other botanics come from our own Secret Herb Garden where they are hand harvested, dried in our drying room and then expertly blended and distilled. The gin is all hand bottled and therefore a truly hand crafted spirit.
“It’s a huge prestige for The Secret Garden and the distillery to be supplying Chester Zoo. We farm completely naturally with no chemicals whatsoever and truly love nature, values I know the zoo shares. We have had such fun creating this gin and it is a joy to be launching it now, and I am sure the visitors and supporters of the zoo will love it too.”
With over 128 acres filled with thousands of different species of plants, at Chester Zoo, Phil Esseen, Curator of Botany and Horticulture, is kept busy both here and overseas, in a variety of plant conservation programmes. Offering his expertise on the zoo’s plant life, Phil was also part of the process of plant selection to infuse the gin.
“The botanicals used in the Chester Zoo gin are carefully balanced to create a unique flavour, and were selected to reflect the zoo’s ‘tropical’ landscapes, and our work with rare plants. For example, one of the more unusual flavourings in the gin is extracted from banana leaves. These were grown here at the zoo, where we use the hardy Japanese banana (Musa basjoo) to help create a tropical effect in our planting, particularly in our South East Asian islands habitats.”
Curator of Botany and Horticulture – Phil Esseen
Phil added: “We also use the leaves to wrap up different foods for feeding to the chimps, as part of their dietary and behavioural enrichment. We also grow dandelions (another botanical in the gin) as it is a much loved part of our tortoises’ diet.”
For that extra special touch, our gin bottle labels are made entirely from seed paper, so you can grow your own little piece of nature, courtesy of Chester Zoo. Simply plant the paper into the ground, water regularly and watch your wildlflowers grow!
Chester Zoo gin is being served at the Oakfield as the house gin – perfect for a cold G&T whilst visiting us!