Do you like your gin with a little bit of red wood ant acid? The Cambridge Distillery’s got you covered. In partnership with Copenhagen’s Nordic Food Lab, they have created the “Anty Gin,” a bottle containing the venom and pheromones of “approximately 62 red wood ants.”
Nordic Food Lab’s Product Development Manager Jonas Pederson said the idea for the gin evolved parallel with their growing fascination for red wood ant flavor. Formic acid and pheromones that the ants produce are used in the distilling process. With these materials being highly reactive to alcohol, the result is a drink with a citrus-like flavor, along with distinctive aroma produced by the pheromones.
Will Lowe of The Cambridge Distillery gathered up 6,000 ants to create the drink: “Around 6,000 ants were foraged from the Kent woodland and put straight into high-strength ethanol there and then. Back in Cambridge we were able to distill that ethanol to get this wonderful citrus flavor of the ants,” he said.
The gin also contains “foraged botanicals like stinging nettle, wood avens root and alexanders seeds to mix with the ant distillate”, said Lowe. According to the product’s website, 100% organic English wheat was used in the process, and the distillation was carried out one liter at a time.
The result, as Will Lowe explains, is a “spectacular, one-of-a-kind gin,” poised to “open people’s eyes to the possibility of insects being used as a viable source of food and flavor.” The first batch is only 99 bottles, with each one priced at 200 pounds, including a 50ml sample of wood ant distillate. Gin and tonic seems to be getting old.