Written by Joanne Birkitt, Comte de Grasse CMO | October 24th 2018

on October 24th 2018

On dirait le Sud,
le temps dure longtemps
et la vie sûrement
plus d’un million d’années,
et toujours en été.

Y a plein d’enfants qui se roulent sur la pelouse.
Y a plein de chiens.
Y a même un chat, une tortue, des poissons rouges,
il ne manque rien.

“There are lots of dogs, there is even a cat, a turtle, a goldfish. There is nothing missing”, Nino Ferrer’s lyrics of ‘Le Sud’ have never rung so true as we stand at the threshold of launching our flagship product.

And true to his lyrics we have uncovered a surprising abundance of gifts from the terroir surrounding our home in Grasse, constantly inspiring us for our next projects. Whilst we have not stumbled across a goldfish, it is true that nothing is missing here not even a glacier or a bat.

Naturally we searched for the very best Grassois knowledge to help us learn everything about our region of Provençe, we found it in the form of a captivating gentleman named Gabriel from the local Agricultural Bureau and original designer of the garden at the Musée de Parfum in Grasse. Gabriel has introduced us to the most precious local botanicals and to suppliers that share our dedication to achieve sustainable local sourcing.

A favourite time with Gabriel was conversing during a journey into the Alps Maritime area after he promised me a natural fridge and a glacier, yes that’s right, a fridge and a glacier in Provence of all places! Sacre bleu! After a particularly hair-raising car journey where our man Gabriel swerved the hairpin bends like a seasoned Grand Prix driver, our Franglais also did a wide swerve onto the topic of local fungi. He highly recommends ‘les sanguins’ specific to the region known for its carrot orange cap and the red milk it exudes.

We arrived at Monsieur Mr. Rebuffels natural fridge which is over 300 years old and historically built for storing ice from the mountains on its way down to the supply the aristocratic bars on the coast. Naturally cool because of its design and use of local rock it currently houses his vast harvest of potatoes. Inspired about the potential here we then headed to the Glacier, hidden deep within a bat cave - how can we unlock this natural affinity to cold storage for our future projects? We have some ideas, the bats may or may not steal some the angels share, we shall see.

But for now, back to our flagship product. Shall I tell you? Naturally Marie-Anne our Master Scientist and Innovator wanted to create something special, something with a strong sense of place and homage to the heritage of Grasse and the passion of its people.

She started with an emotion, to create a liquid that ‘if light were a flavour and illumination a scent this is what it would taste like’. Poetic, absolutely we are in Provence! Most important for us was the sourcing, and so we met Renouer. A non-for-profit partner who supports the long term unemployed find work or even re-train into new skills.

We quickly understood from Gabriel and Renouer that there were local ingredients we could collect which would benefit the whole community. Today their team collect over 100 kilos of precious botanicals for us – our Cade that grows wild in the mountains, Bigarade bitter oranges the forgotten fallen fruit of local gardens and delicate rose centifolia petals native to this region. They collect, peel, dry and supply to us superior ingredients for our gin and in turn we pay them for their efforts. Together we take our time, together we make it perfect.

It doesn’t stop there either, the Renouer team have also helped us start the restoration work on our beautiful 19th century distillery. It’s a partnership for the future and we couldn’t do what we do without them.

Let’s also talk about Lionel and Monique Brault, a couple who quit their Parisienne lifestyle and headed to Grasse to import the most perfect specimen of Immortelle from Corsica. They now diligently grow their plants in the shade of 400-year-old olive trees (and a 100-year-old dog). They supply all of our Immortelle in delicate cotton bags as they are best to preserve the delicate petals.

So we are here. Marie-Anne, Renouer, Gabriel and our motley crew of suppliers present to you 44ºN, our gorgeous Bleu Klein bottle of gin. In the next article Marie-Anne walks you through her process, you will see we adopted the ‘Prends ton temps’ attitude to making our liquid to ensure we have made something perfectly delicious for you.