Q&A with the Creator of Lunun Gin - Chef Dean Banks
We sat down with the one and only, creator of Lunun Gin - chef Dean Banks. Unfortunately, we were in work, so no gin was consumed but it was on our minds. Deans knowledge and expertise of Asian ingredients and fusion cooking is the backbone of Lunun Gin. All combined with the knowledge of our distiller Lewis - an Award Winning Gin was founded.
What inspired you to begin making gin / what inspired your range?
The inspiration was when I opened my restaurant I couldn't find a gin I wanted. I felt that a lot of the premium brands were not as good quality as I would have wanted, so I went to go find out what makes a good product and it was through the folding process, so I decided to make my own gin. It's a very expensive process but what it does is give is amazing premium product and it comes through the smoothness.
What do you love about gin distilling?
It's like being in the kitchen, I love the fact you can add different flavours and spices. There are some set rules you need to abide by with making gin. It’s kind of like the way a classic recipe is made for example, you want to make a shortbread you have to use a certain amount of sugar and butter for it to work, however you can add all your different flavours to it and make it a seaweed shortbread for example, as we do in the restaurant. It’s very similar to cooking which is why I love it.
Can you tell us about your distillation process, botanical make-up and tasting notes?
Our distiller Lewis distills our gin in a single-fold process. This means our gin is not diluted from a concentrate which can be harsh on the palate. Our process allows for a much smoother taste, which lets the flavours speak for themselves. It’s six unique botanicals - kaffir lime leaf, sea buckthorn, Sichuan pepper, kombu kelp, ginger and lemongrass - add a citrus essence, allowing the straight-up gin to be served with or without tonic and a simple slice of lime. Our award- winning gin is known for its smooth, delicate palate, with beautifully balanced asian flavours.
What is your favourite Lunun Cocktail ?
My Favourite Lunun cocktail is a Seabuckthorn Sour. It reminds me of a calipo ice lolly which is basically the essence of summer in the UK
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Winning Gold for Distilled Gin of the Year 2021 at the Scottish Gin Awards. It was great to receive the recognition our wonderful gin deserves.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
I would definitely say it’s been the costs. Because we do a single fold process our costs to create the gin are so expensive compared to some other gins - but then we have to almost compete with their pricing. We could obviously go down the line of multiple folding like some do and get 20 times the product at way lower cost to us, but because we’re a one-fold process it’s very expensive. I feel that as we grow bigger and our volumes go up it will get cheaper, however we're going to stick to our roots and stick to the single-fold process.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Just go for it, that's my advice. Don't think about it, don't dwell on it just do it. Just jump in the deep end, find a distiller or learn how to distil yourself, get your product in and don't change what you do at the start. Stick with your product, don't change.
What's the best piece of advice you've received?
The best piece of advice I have received is to keep on doing what I'm doing. Not to change myself and I think that's the advice I’m giving someone else, once you've got your product and brand stick to it, stay true to yourself and true to the brand and that's what the customers will follow. You will have a great customer following because of that and as soon as you change and sell out, it’s gone. So stay true to who you are.
Where would you like to see the gin industry in 5 years-time?
I'd like to see it flourishing. I'd love to see more great brands come out of Scotland and the UK. I support other businesses that are doing well or start-up businesses. I like seeing other people doing well. I don't see them as competition. I see them helping the industry and it's more fun having people you can have fun with, have a drink with, enjoy stories with, exchange experiences and help each other.
What has been your favourite moment from 2022?
My favourite moment from 2022 so far has to be achieving 3 rosettes with the AA at my restaurant in Edinburgh – Dean Banks at the Pompadour. Lunun Gin & Mond Vodka are of course, our house pours.
If you could sit and have a gin with living or in history who would it be & why?
I would have a gin with Elon Musk and try to convince him to tweet about it
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