Freeing The Spirit: Reviving Absinthe

Diana Szpytma May 15, 2018

The craft spirits trend shows no signs of slowing down, with demand and product choice increasing at a rapid rate. Cornish distiller, Pocketful of Stones sees no boundaries to what they can achieve, placing integrity and respect for local ingredients and their environment in all they do.

According to leading market research company Technavio, the global craft spirits market is set to grow at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 26.91% from 2017 to 2021. In the UK, HMRC figures indicate that 49 new distilleries opened last year, bringing the total to 315 outfits.

In terms of product type, perhaps the most talked about have been the gins, but there are also new vodkas, whiskies, rums and liqueurs out there making their mark.

Craft distiller Pocketful of Stones also started with gin. In the cellar of a pub in London two brothers sat around a tiny copper still, trying out gin recipe after gin recipe. The dream was to get back to their roots, the outdoors and the ocean and to produce something they were both passionate about. The outcome was their classic dry gin, Caspyn.

Now based in Long Rock, near Penzance, Shaun Bebington and his small team are focused on another dream. Absinthe.

Absinthe originates from Switzerland, first produced in the canton of Neuchatel in the late 18th century but it wasn’t until the late 19th, early 20th century that is became popular as an alcoholic drink in France, particularly among the bohemian set.

With somewhat of a chequered past, mainly due to its high alcohol content, and not, its now thought, to its ingredients, Absinthe is seeing a revival and is produced in dozens of countries including the US, where the production ban was lifted in 2007.

I was intrigued to give Absinthe a go and wanted to challenge myself,” states Bebington. “It meant working with flavours one might not normally use but I also wanted to stick to ingredients and the environment that influences us here on the Cornish coast.”

Morveren Absinthe was born.

Due to be launched onto the market late this month, Morveren Absinthe is hand crafted from local Cornish ingredients and named after the legend of the mermaid Morveren who lived in these waters and fell in love with a local boy. They could never live together and so he followed her into the waters at Pendour Cove and gave his life to be with her.

The legend lives on, not only in the flavor, but also in the stunning packaging of this drink, which will most definitely catch the eye. The tall, clear glass bottle highlights the almost luminous pale green, yellow colour of the spirit and both the label and the outer sleeve reflect all that has gone into the making of this absinthe.

The packaging needed to reflect not only the ingredients but the history of absinthe, the ethics and values of the distillery and its surroundings, and the story behind the drink, “ states Bebington. “Black is used as the primary colour to depict the depths of the ocean and the gold foiling resembles the spark and mystery beneath the waves.”

A bespoke illustration of the underwater scene of Morveren in the murky waters, surrounded by glowing jellyfish and sinuous seaweed is the theme for the outer tube graphics.  The swirling jellyfish is also carried across onto the lid and the label.

The unusual shape of the label continues this oceanic theme. “The label needed to have exceptional foiling and finish and be of a high quality with precise die-cutting. So this was quite a challenge for the label printer,” continues Bebington.

We chose a digital label company to produce this because it is a small batch, hand-crafted product with a short production run. Label.co.uk were able to give us the label quality and finish to complete our high-end packaging. Their foiling and die-cutting is exceptional. As you can see on the label.”

Morveren certainly brings Absinthe into the 21st century. It’s premium packaging will mean it can more than stand its own on the shelf with any high-end drinks product. Whether we will see Absinthe rise to the heady heights of the current gin market, remains to be seen but this drink will certainly raise the bar.

www.label.co.uk