Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


New foraged gins

Eight years of trial and error finally came to fruition for Mark and Zoe Rose who launched their new Elsewhere gins late last year, just in the nick of time for Christmas.

The duo behind the country’s newest gin brand are a couple in life as well as in work, so there was plenty of opportunity to taste test their products during their eight years of development work. He is a winemaker while she is the marketing brains behind the brand.

Each of the six Elsewhere gins is named after a place in New Zealand from Hahei in the North Island to Central Otago and others in the south. Each of the gins are named after the area in which their ingredients were foraged in New Zealand.The locations are Hahei, Little River, Fox River, North Canterbury, Endeavour Inlet and Central Otago. The gins are made by Mark Rose, who sees the process through from start to finish, using a local Christchurch distillery. The owners are paid for the use of the distillery.

“Our inspiration came from a blind tasting of 38 gins back in 2013 and, for me, the Berry Brothers & Rudd No 3 London Dry Gin was the clear favourite. I saw The Botanist as an exceptional ground breaker and Scapegrace as a superb New Zealand gin. The tasting was an eye opener and showed me how diverse gins can be,” says Mark.

Fast forward eight years and the Elsewhere gins are triple distilled, using a liquid sugar alcohol base and ancient aquifer water sourced from North Canterbury. The first part in the Elsewhere production process is to create a classic London Dry gin, intertwining hand foraged elements from places throughout New Zealand, hence the names of the individual Elsewhere gins.

The base spirit goes through three separate distillations, each one enriching the previous distillation’s distillate.

“This results in an extremely pure hearts cut that increases in volume with each subsequent distillation. By doing this, the third and final distillation uses a distillate that is balanced and deepened. It’s similar to developing a photo in a dark room because the result of the triple gin method gives an exceptionally clear image of the botanicals in each one. We see each Elsewhere gin as a geographical spirit.”

The botanicals for Elsewhere are mixed with ethanol and water in a copper Alquitar still and left to steep for 48 hours. They are then vapour infused using two copper mesh plates in the still to contain the botanicals which are situated over the surface of the base spirit. When the spirit is heated, ethanol vapours rise into the plates, enabling the botanicals to release their essentials oils into the vapours, which reliquefy and carry the botanical flavours with them.

The gins

Elsewhere Hahei Gin

The freshly foraged botanicals in Hahei come from Stingray Bay and Cathedral Cove, expressing a strong sense of nostalgia in the taste that they impart to this gin. Botanicals here are Manuka leaf, seaweed, kawakawa spice, aromatic makrut and kumquat all give this gin an iconic New Zealand flavour of green spicy herbs and fresh seaside nuances. It has notes of saltiness balanced by lively freshness thanks to this complex range of botanicals. This is for those who want to step outside the norm and drink a dry gin with a definite New Zealand twist in taste.

Elsewhere Little River Gin

Beautiful Little River is home to the wild foraged pea flower which imparts the distinctive blue tinge to this gin, which changes in taste once blended with tonic. The other botanicals in this one include chamomile, lemon thyme, rosemary and kanuka, each adding delicate herbaceous notes on the nose and palate. Elsewhere’s Little River Gin begs for a tonic that allows it to express its aromatic flavours without overtaking them. I suggest a Fever Tree Light Tonic.

Elsewhere Fox River Gin

West Coast New Zealand botanicals are blended then aged in French oak to express a wild and rugged character of Fox River in this flavoursome gin. Its botanicals include rata, purple thistle flower, nasturtiums and wild fennel with seaweed and beach pebbles added for good measure. Another excellent gin from Elsewhere which needs to express its flavours without compromise – serve with a light but clean tonic, preferably one without sweetness. The flavours here are dry from start to finish. 

Elsewhere North Canterbury Gin

It’s no secret that North Canterbury is home to many of New Zealand’s most characterful and expressive Rieslings, noted for their ripe orange and mandarin flavours and this gin pays tribute to them. Its botanicals include orange blossom, kaffir lime, bay leaf, lavender, rose and olive, the last one balancing the floral intensity of this lovely gin. Foraged seaweed from Taylor’s Mistake add earthy flavour notes and a slight hint of saltiness. A great New Zealand gin to sip and savour.

Elsewhere Endeavour Inlet Gin

The stunning serenity of Endeavour Inlet in Queen Charlotte Sound was home to the botanicals in this dry gin with its floral and herbaceous notes. Botanicals here include rimu, rata flowers, citrus, fennel blossom and wakame, all of which add up to a deeply flavoursome gin with green fresh aromas and an aromatic taste verging on light notes of licorice, thanks to the addition of fennel – a flavour that I personally think marries beautifully well with classic dry tonic.

Elsewhere Central Otago Gin

This gin is made from a base spirit of Pinot Noir grapes which were grown in Bannockburn and it seems fitting that a gin from this region would be as beautiful to look at as it is to drink, given the dramatic landscape of this majestic region in the deep south. The gin has a medium ruby tinge in colour and a dry red berry intensity, beautifully balanced by flavours of wild foraged thyme, a herb that blankets many of the mountainous foothills in this region. It also includes matagouri blossom and briar rose as other botanicals in the blend. It was aged for a year and reflects flavours that characterise great Pinot Noirs from this region. Surprisingly, it drinks exceptionally well on its own, thanks to the seamless complexity of this blend and its depth of flavour.