Our approach to sustainable ingredients

Hendre’ Barnard
Production Manager
Jim and Tonic

Sourcing sustainably is not easy, but Jim and Tonic has taken this challenge to heart.

Sustainable distillery botanicals

Generally, for a Gin Distillery, sourcing ingredients is a relatively straight forward process. There are not really that many botanical suppliers that specialise in gin botanicals.

Here at Jim and Tonic, we have very specific requirements in terms of quality, we need to make sure the supplier can scale as we grow, and we need to be sure that the supplier can provide the same quality of product consistently through the year with no seasonal variation.

These requirements are also the reason why botanical suppliers are generally not sustainable enterprises.

Botanicals are shipped across enormous distances to ensure consistent supply. Intensive agricultural processes are used to ensure sufficient supply. And quality requirements always lead to waste.

As a brand that puts sustainability at its core, Jim and Tonic has taken this challenge to heart.

We started off with a vetting of our current suppliers – looking closely at their sustainability credentials. This gave us a starting point to try and improve on.

Next, we looked at our individual botanicals – which were needed, and which were not really playing a role. By discarding those ingredients that did not make a substantial difference we managed to reduce our stock holdings, save money, free up storage space, and reduce our carbon footprint.

Sustainable London honey

We then started the most time intensive part – trying to source the botanicals we use directly from local suppliers. As an urban distillery, this is not as easy as it might be for a distillery located on a farm or in a more rural area, but we don’t do what we do expecting it to be easy. The Honey 🍯 for our RooBee Rhubarb Gin – as an example - we have sourced from Bee-Urban and the London Honey Company – both producing Honey from urban hives, located and processed in London.

Some of our other botanicals we obtain from Roots and Shoots, an urban agricultural project that works with individuals that have special educational needs. These are also grown in an urban environment, within walking distance of our distillery, plus we are helping out people from our local community (because sustainability is not just about the environment after all).

locally grown herbs

Our pièce de resistance in terms of sustainable production – at least as far as the ingredients goes – is of course our Jim and Tonic London Dry Gin. The entire recipe was created with sustainability in mind, so we exclusively used ingredients that can be found within the M25 – the motorway that runs around central London. This means that we could potentially source every single one of the ingredients within 15 miles of our distillery location.

The recipe works, evident from our Gold medal recently won at the San Francisco International Spirit Awards.

sustainable London apples

Now we are moving across to sourcing continuously. This has required some innovative thinking. For instance, sourcing apples (one of the ingredients) is easy enough as there are several urban orchards. Sourcing sufficient quantity from the orchards is also relatively easy. But obviously it is a seasonal product, so how do we preserve enough of the product when it is available, for the entire years’ worth of production? The solution is to process the apple by juicing it, and then freezing the juice. The drawback is that we need electricity to store that frozen juice, but as we use green electricity suppliers, that does not affect our sustainability level too much.

In the end, sourcing sustainably is not easy. 'Organic' for instance does not go hand in hand with sustainable – in actual fact, many (if not most) organic operations are not sustainable! The benefit of sourcing from a sustainable supplier is negated if that product has to travel a hundred miles to get to you. And in the end, you cannot compromise the quality and consistency of your product just to increase your level of sustainability.

Are you looking for a local London gin with a sustainable outlook and values?

If you're a consumer, you can order our 'sustainable urban gins' on our online shop.

Are you a local bar, pub or restaurant and want to stock a fellow London-based gin brand? Visit our Trade Enquiries page.