The bartenders have settled in, got to know each other and the long-haulers have pretty much shaken off the jet-lag. So the second day for  the G’Vine Perspectives Global Challenge winners saw them heading on to Cognac.

First stop was the G’Vine distillery. Although a range of spirits are produced here the focus was on G’Vine gin itself. Guided by charismatic founder and Master Distiller, Jéan-Sébastien Robicquet, the bartenders were taken through the gin’s unique story. In true unconventional style Jéan-Sébastien explained how his personal history with wine had taken him on an extraordinary journey to produce the first gin based not on grain but the grape. We were also introduced to Lily Fleur, Betty, Emmy and few more of his stills. Yes, he does name them all. “They all have names”, he explains “because you can then talk to them and have a relationship with them.”

After a tasting of both G’Vine Floraison and G’Vine Nouaison it was on to the place Jéan-Sébastien and his team call home, Maison Villevert.

Now it was the turn of Philip Duff and Yves Le Boulengé to take the stage with the story of Gin 1495. Philip explained how a chance reading some ten or so years ago had taken him on an extraordinary journey. The year 1495, it transpires, was when the earliest known recipe was made for a recreational gin. Tracing its history he discovered it was based on wine, which in turn lead him to Jéan-Sébastien Robicquet and the team at Maison Villevert. Together they decided to actually recreate it. Moreover, inspired by Robicquet’s enthusiasm for the project they also created a version for today’s tastes. Along with the bartenders we were treated to a taste of both the original, Verbãtim, and the contemporary expression, Interprêtãtio. The flavours are big, populated as the recipes are with clove, nutmeg and cinnamon, along with a host of other ingredients including the essential juniper. (You can read more about Gine 1495 here.)

The day concluded with a tasting of new G’Vine serves courtesy of Germain Canto at Louise Bar. Our favourite? Le M De Floraison (G’Vine Florasion, Le Quintinye Vermouth Royal Extra Dry, lime cordial and Boker’s Bitters). Sharp and very refreshing.

What is an unconventional thinker?

“Being unconventional is about building your personal box of experiences, with strong foundations and walls, but never putting a lid on the box. Instead, you keep building your personal box, but never put that lid on it. Never say it’s finished!”

Jéan-Sébastien Robicquet, G’Vine founder and Master Distiller

With the winners

Soran Nomura, Fuglen, Japan

“Jiro Shirasu was a Japanese economist who recognised that after the Second World War his country needed to build a new relationship with the USA. In a country where tradition is important he went against this to forge this new relationship which went on to become vital in the country’s recovery. I am celebrating him with my cocktail Sage The World (G’Vine Nouaison, sage leaves, Manzanilla sherry, lemon juice, homemade sage and green tea syrup and absinthe).

Ferñao Goncalves, Casa de Pasto, Portugal

“When I visit my mother Maria in my home village I am always inspired by the way she grows so many types of food and herbs. She has chosen not to take things easy but to work harder in her garden. I have used ingredients she has grown to make my drink Lavender Garden (G’Vine Floraison, ginger, orange juice, lemon juice, brown sugar, egg white, lavender bitters, fresh bio lavender flower, basil leaves and dehydrated orange).

Martin Gouguet, Hotel Christopher, France

“No one had ever explored the oceans before Jacques-Yves Cousteau. On board his vessel the Calypso he filmed extraordinary things to share with the world. He was a true pioneer, and as well as being a sub-acquatic explorer he was also an environmentalist. I wanted to honour him with my cocktail the Calypso Martini (G’Vine Floraison, La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Extra Dry and sweet white wine reduction).

Tomorrow: Sampling Cognac and cooking with a Michelin starred chef

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