Quicktake: La Thériaque is a new gin style spirit made in the South of France with two expressions: Pic Pic and Garrigue
As France’s selection of domestic gin continues to grow, one of the newest comes by way of the Languedoc region and expresses the terroir of the south. American expats, Sunshine and Lana, created La Thériaque spirits to showcase the flavors of their adoptive home.
The duo works intuitively and artisanally, using 100 year old copper stills, handpicking botanicals, and filtering optionally depending on the bottling. The result is a product that changes seasonally with different climatic conditions and is more in line with the natural wine movement than large scale spirits operations, which work towards consistency.
While the botanicals include wild juniper from the region, they do not have the denomination of gin due to EU requirements for a base spirit with a higher level of ethanol. So, technically, it’s an eau-de-vie. Or….a gin by any other name, is still pretty much like a gin.
Speaking of names, theirs was inspired by location as well. Le Thériaque (theriac in English) originated in 2AD Greece as a medicinal cure all, the name even came to be a synonym of panacea. Fast forward several centuries to Montpellier in the 1600’s, and the French version of Le Thériaque had evolved and was considered one of the best, a reputation that remained until government regulation of medicines in the early 20th century. Thus the traditions of distillation for medicinal and, eventually, recreational purposes were historically very strong in the south of France.
Their two expressions: Pic Pic and Garrigue, each have their own distinct personality and flavor profile. Both are made from a distillation of local natural wine, the mouthfeel is somewhat unctuous and round and the flavours are pretty explosive. Pic Pic works well for mixing cocktails – especially in negronis or with tonic – and Garrigue was created as more of an after dinner sipping spirit.
Though they’ve been working on getting the project off the ground for the last five years, of course this last year when they were planning to get into restaurants and bars more has proved challenging. But you will still find Garique in high end restaurants and you can shop around for them in Paris or in their online boutique.
If you want to learn more about the spirit and the American women behind it, we’re interviewing them for the January episode of Paris Cocktail Talk.
all photos, except the martini, courtesy of La Theriaque website