Stratford distiller Stuart Greenhill and his partner Jo Stallard, owners of the Fenton Street Arts Collective, try the award-winning gin. Photo/Margie Coplestone.
When it comes to making gin, Fenton Street Arts Collective has the right recipe for making award-winning gin.
Stratford distiller Stuart Greenhill sent two bottles of gin to the London Spirits Competition in March and both bottles won prizes.
“We just sent two bottles of gin that were on the shelf. Everyone gets the same quality of well-distilled gin.”
Pioneer gin was two points away from winning gold, and 1564 Venus and Adonis also won silver.
“This was particularly encouraging as international judges awarded medals based on three distinct areas: taste, value and presentation. Most competitions simply judge on taste.”
Pioneer gin was inspired by Stuart’s research for his forthcoming book Father of the Sons.
“I’m researching the pioneer farmers east of Taranaki. I was visiting Puke Ariki to do some research and came across a 1908 photograph of the main street in Stratford. It wasn’t the fog that choked the street but the smoke from the burning of the bush.”
Thirteen botanicals, including local kawakawa, horopito and tarata, as well as local bush honey and manuka smoke, make this gin unique in the collection, says Stuart.
The 1564 Venus and Adonis gin is inspired by the poem of the same name by William Shakespeare.
“The poem tells the story of Venus, the goddess of love and her unrequited love and her attempt to seduce Adonis, an extremely handsome young man, who would rather go hunting. He refuses her despite her continued attention Venus dreams that Adonis is killed by a boar and rushes to warn him, but it was too late.”
Stuart says the characters are depicted through blended botany to capture the essence of the poem.
“Venus is depicted with rose petals, miro berries and caramelized orange. I used rimu to mirror the prickly Adonis, medicinal kawakawa to help him ‘get better’ and root dandelion, while his head is buried. Dandelion root and miro berries reflect Adonis.”
1564 Venus and Adonis gin also won silver at the 2022 New Zealand Spirit Awards. The Beast with two Backs gin, inspired by a quote from Shakespeare’s Othello, also won silver at the awards.
He says Shakespeare-inspired gins are special and boutique, due to the limited supply of local flora.
“1564 has miro berries from Wharehuia and The Beast with Two Backs has pohutukawa stamens, the only edible part of the flower. Othello is symbolized by North African spices, nutmeg, turmeric, liquorice, coffee beans and caramelized oranges.Desdemona is mirrored by pohutukawa stamens, a New Zealand symbol of femininity.A percentage of sales of our Shakespeare gin is donated to the Shakespeare Trust in Stratford.
Stuart is pleased with the success of the gin.
“It is very satisfying that a provincial distillery like ours enjoys international recognition in addition to our national awards.”
Amelia Lett, director of the Fenton Street Arts Collective, says she is honored to work for Jo and Stuart and delighted with the success.
“I tell customers all the time that I am honored to work here. Jo and Stuart are very talented and passionate about their gin, their art and their hospitality.”