Life is very seldom black and white. And perhaps that’s never been more true than at the current time of writing, with Coronavirus in full swing. You could say that living in the grey is proving to be more than a little…unique.
But if there’s one thing that unique times call for, it’s an equally unique gin to top up your glass with! Enter Zeiver gin.
Zeiver is the brainchild of James Bilson and Clayton Patterson, born out of frustration with the mundanity of the 9-to-5 treadmill of daily work & life. The dynamic duo had ambitions to bring to the market a gin that they felt was truly unique, whilst also being representative of their love and passion for the spirit. A gin that would hopefully capture the palates and imaginations of both gin and non-gin drinkers alike.
Now I’ll be the first to admit, when I hear a brand describe themselves as being ‘unique’ there can be a temptation to scream ‘we’ve heard it all before!!!’. With a market that is fit to bursting point with gins of all shapes and sizes, you could be forgiven for asking the question ‘what makes you so different then?!’.
And so I decided to do just that! From a socially distanced distance, I exclusively caught up with James & Clayton to chew the fat on all things Zeiver. And it didn’t take long to see that these guys have all of the answers to cover their very unique bases…
The Gin Shelf (TGS): Hi guys! So Zeiver is pretty much the ‘new kid on the block’! When did you decide that you wanted to make a gin?
Zeiver: Yes, thats right! We officially launched at the end of March 2020, but we decided to start Zeiver in May 2019.
TGS: What’s in the name? It’s fittingly unique! What is Zeiver and how did you land on that name?
Zeiver: Zeiver is a Dutch word originally spelt “Zuiver” and pronounced Zay-ver. It means pure and sincere. We wanted that to be our motto in everything we do: to be sincere, honest, and straightforward.
TGS: It’s a pretty striking look that you’ve gone for with the double label. What’s with the black & white theme? Was there a reason behind it?
Zeiver: We liked the simplicity and preciseness of black and white and white on black. It also has a fashionable, designer look to it. Not only that, but we wanted our labelling (like the drink) to be unique and reflect a supreme quality product.
When choosing the theme for our bottle look we both went back and forth on what would be the dominant color. Clayton really liked white, I (James) was more into black. We both wanted to go with a theme that supported the logo and allowed it to stand out. We then had this idea to do a double label, and allow the bartenders or end-consumers to choose their own side.
TGS: The website says a PhD biochemist is involved in the making; which one of you is the ‘boffin’ then?!
Zeiver: The PhD biochemist is actually Dr John Walters! After making the recipe, we looked for a Master Distiller we could trust to expertly refine and produce it on a large scale. It’s common for distillers to want to do everything themselves. And being a business owner, you do have to wear lots of hats. However, the way forward towards sustainable growth is assembling a rockstar team where everyone is contributing with their unique strengths; that’s what’s happening with Zeiver now. It’s exciting to see!
TGS: How many people are involved in Zeiver? And where abouts are you based?
Zeiver: We are internationally based. The Zeiver team consists of two co founders (us!) and a small but growing team in the UK and Japan. But our gin is distilled by Dr. John Walters at English Spirit Distillery, just south of Cambridge.
TGS: How did you land on the recipe/botanical mix? It’s a pretty unique sounding lineup!
Zeiver: Thank you, it is indeed a very unique lineup. The quickest way to answer this is simply that we studied botanicals, flavour profiles, and drank a lot of different gins to help shape our vision. The end product took a lot of trial and error, testing, and tasting to eventually get to our end product. It’s been almost a year in the making.
We have high standards of quality and purity (remember Zeiver), which means we don’t use any flavourings or add any oils, essences, etc. after distillation. If you do it right, you don’t have to. We believe Zeiver is one of the most supreme quality gins on the market!
TGS: So are you willing to share how many attempts it took to get the recipe just right?
Zeiver: Quite a few is putting it politely! A lot of time, money and some frustrations but we persevered because of our vision. We knew what we wanted and what taste we wanted, it was just a matter of time until we found it.
TGS: 47% ABV is a bold way to enter the market (which I love)! Was there any particular reason for landing at that strength?
Zeiver: Thank you, we also love the ABV; Bold but beautiful! Yes our ABV surprises a lot of people (in a very good way) as most think they are drinking a gin with a low 40’s ABV. Many cannot believe it is 47% considering how smooth it is!
Before our final product, we had a 42% variant, and it was lovely, but people said it was “too smooth” believe it or not. We wanted a gin that wouldn’t disappear in the mix. Zeiver is so versatile and great in so many cocktails/mixers. This bump in ABV packed more of a punch to ensure a unique tasting experience no matter what you’re making.
TGS: Being a ‘gin unique’ is clearly important to you – why so?
Zeiver: We believe that if you are to bring another gin into the world, there needs to be a good reason for it. There needs to be something different; something unique. It needs to stand out from everything else on the market in both taste, look and approach.
- Our base is made from polished rice
- The botanical list breaks away the unquestioned tyranny of coriander, angelica root, cassia etc.
- The label design and brand approach is uniquely simple yet elegant
There are so many different gins on the market today, it’s dizzying. But their differences are so minute.
Zeiver is unique inside and out.
TGS: What was your biggest challenge in making the gin? Or are we living in it right now with Coronavirus impacting the hotel and bar trade?
Zeiver: We would have to say it is the Coronavirus. We are not using it as an excuse though. It affects all of us, so instead we are using it as an opportunity…
Our online awareness and sales are doing well, as we are 100% focused on the end user now instead of sharing that focus with bars/pubs. We had a great response from bars, which was incredibly humbling. We are confident that bars and hotels will stock Zeiver when things reopen – it’s just a matter of being patient.
Another huge challenge for us was our label. It was hard to get our label concept to work, but we got there in the end and it is being received very well.
TGS: What’s next for Zeiver? Is the plan to focus on the flagship gin, or will you be building a portfolio over time?
Zeiver: We’ll be focusing on the flagship gin and we are having a lot of fun with that! We see the value of doing one thing exceptionally well. We are getting interest already from other countries in both Europe and the US.
(Conditions allowing) we will be at some major gin/spirit shows in both the UK, Japan and hopefully Hong Kong. We’ll also be entering some world renowned taste competitions, as well as planning to expand into the US market by fall 2020.
When the time is right, we will certainly build our portfolio as we have some great ideas/vision for future products.
TGS: Thanks guys!
If you would like more detail on Zeiver gin, along with my in depth tasting notes and serving suggestions, please check out my fuller blog review on Zeiver gin here:
Huge thanks to James Bilson & Clayton Patterson for my complementary bottle of Zeiver gin and for their time to take part in a socially distanced Q&A interview!
Be sure to follow the team with interest across their social media and webpage:
And don’t forget to stop by @theginshelf across all social media platforms for more blogs & event updates. Stop by, say ‘Hi’ & chat gin!