Meet The Maker: James Oag-Cooper, Hyke Gin

BarChick got the low-down on this epic new sustainable gin from the brand's MD

 On World Recycling Day, Foxhole Spirits brought brand new Hyke Gin to market. You might not think we need another gin on our shelves, but this particular bottle is moving the world in a pretty epic direction... so you're wrong. We do need another gin on our shelves. And this one happens to taste pretty bloody grape... er, we mean great!

Who are these guys?

2016 might have been a year of doom for many, but for the drinks industry there were no referendums or elections. Just some epic product launches, including the first batch of Foxhole Gin from the guys running Foxhole Spirits. Since then they've been doing great things with wicked ingredients. If you're big into sustainability and high quality, premium spirits, you need these guys on your radar.  The focus is, and always will be, on using otherwise unused resources, promoting sustainability and creativity within the drinks industry. Legends, the bloody lot of 'em.

We went for a drink with MD James Oag-Cooper to get the low-down on their latest product, Hyke Gin. This guy knows his stuff when it comes to doing good things with cool produce, and he's not one to let the small details pass him by. We have Aussie Masterchef to thank for his pretty great knowledge of flavours. He worked as a runner on the show several years back and learnt pretty quickly while on set that people really do give a sh*t about how stuff tastes and what goes into making a kick-ass product that people are gonna enjoy. Before that, he didn't know what Pinot Noir was. He also saw how much sh*t we waste on a daily basis and was not cool with it. He's brought all of that to Foxhole Spirits and to Hyke, and that's the entire sub-plot to this new premium gin.

 It's all about sustainability

It's the buzz word of the moment, but it's actually pretty f*cking important too, so props to these guys for making it the backbone of their product. Not so fun fact: 30% of our food goes to waste. Either in supermarkets, restaurants or at home (yeh, we're talking about those good intention bags of salad that go soggy in the bottom of your fridge). That sh*t needs to change, and Foxhole Spirits are playing their part to make that happen. They've tapped into the surplus food market with a focus on table grapes. There are approximately 713 tonnes of fresh table grapes per year are not suitable for fresh consumption. That equates to approx. 1.4 million punnets of grapes. Otherwise officially known as a metric f*ck tonne.

The base spirit created from the surplus grapes helps to reduce food waste in the supply chain.  James knew this was gonna create great things:  “We knew that there was something special that could and should be done with this quality by-product, so we applied our expertise and craftsmanship to the challenge. The result is a totally unique product which tastes exceptionally delicious, is beautifully presented, sustainably conscious and yet still affordable.” We dig that.

So how is it made?

So it's important to note this isn't grape flavoured gin. You cannot glug it back like Shloer. They take all those grapes which are otherwise going to waste, press them dry and make the resulting juice into wine. Yum. But cos it's table grapes, it isn't wine like we know it.  And this wine never sees the light of day: instead, it’s sent to the distillery and turned into a grape spirit, which they use to make HYKE along with the more usual grain spirit. Genius. Using table grapes rather than wine grapes gives HYKE a consistent flavour profile each and every batch. They use red, green and black grapes. Colour doesn't matter, amirite?  Then it's all flavoured with a blend of botanicals inspired by the grapes’ African and South American origins, including coriander, myrrh and rooibos. Yeh, that's right, myrrh. The baby Jesus would be all over this stuff.


Let's talk about taste

You'd be forgiven for thinking this gin is going to taste a bit like grape juice, but 'cause of that pretty labour intensive process, the juicy sweetness you'd expect has faded. What's left is rich, sweet, citrus characters which are super smooth and velvety on the mouth. It's almost got a bit of bitterness and spice to it which we are super into.  That's down to the botanicals like Coriander, Liquorice and Aniseed, but it's not overpowering.  It's the kinda stuff you almost don't want to dilute with a tonic. In fact, we're into drinking this stuff straight, with just a small ice-cube for a bit of cold freshness. But if you're gonna make it into a G&T, James reckons all you need is a wedge of lemon and a sprig of thyme and you're golden.  We agree. 

HYKE Gin is available from Tesco, who have their own initiative going on to reduce food waste by 50% 2030. And considering the meticulous process that goes into making it, it's nicely affordable at £24 for 50cl