Since we have just celebrated our first birthday this week we thought it was about time we shed some light on our core botanical, the marvellous and mysterious Tonka Bean.
Hailing from the depths of South America, this little bean travels a long way to become part of our gin. In its natural habitat, the tonka bean can be found growing in the rainforests of Brazil, Peru and Venezuela – almost the complete opposite climate and setting to Norwich! The beans themselves are actually the seed of the tonka tree (or Dipteryx odorata if you’re feeling scientific) and are found in the heart of the tonka fruit, which happens to be a favourite food of jungle bats. In certain parts of the world, the bean is also a favourite of Voodoo priests who seek it out for its powerful mystical properties.
So how exactly did something found on the other side of the world end up in Norfolk’s first distilled gin? Believe it or not, we first discovered it in fudge! As strange as this may seem, the tonka bean is actually most widely used within confectionary and in the kitchens of chefs where it is famed for its sweet, vanilla-like qualities. To the smell, they give off what can only be described as a distinctive marzipan/Battenberg aroma – but that’s only half the story. When it comes to taste the bean imparts a rich, slightly nutty vanilla flavour, with hints of sweet spice for added deliciousness.
The instant we tasted the complexity of flavour the bean imparts we knew we’d found our central botanical.
So now we had our core botanical, we just needed to find someone to create a gin recipe which would showcase it. This is where our distiller and his little book of recipes stepped in to work his magic. After drafting up a recipe designed to use the bean to its maximum potential and create a spirit unlike any other, we loaded up the still and nervously waited for the gin to distil.
What we created was something unique and very special indeed, a gin that was smooth enough to be enjoyed neat or over ice, but equally at home in a strong G&T. The smoothness you can find in every bottle of Bullards Norwich Gin is all thanks to our marvellous little Tonka Bean and its delicious vanilla spiciness.
Don’t just take our word for it though, why not try it yourself and find out what our tonka bean is like firsthand!