The Nordic Food Lab is “A non-profit that brings food and science together… the “edible potential of the Nordic region” is what inspires them.” [source] One of their big initiatives in the mid 2010’s was a three year project investigating “insect gastronomy.” It was during this flurry of research that they released their somewhat infamous gin— Anty Gin.
Anty Gin was developed by the Nordic Food Lab in partnership with the Cambridge Distillery. William Lowe from the distillery told the Telegraph: ” The whole point of Anty Gin is to open people’s eyes to the possibility of insects being used as a viable source of food and flavour.” [source]
A team of scientists foraged the forests of the UK for red wood ants. They collected over six thousand of these ants and they distilled them.
Yes, they distilled them.
These ants communicate using a complex array of pheromones and formic acid. The formic acid reacts with the base spirit and produces aromatic esters. [for the full story, the Nordic Food Lab goes into further detail on their site]
Aside from the ants, Anty Gin is built upon a base spirit distilled from wheat and includes unusual foraged botanicals such as wild Alexander, nettle and colewort. These are topped off with Bulgarian juniper— and there’s an estimated essence of about 62 wood ants in every bottle.
The top notes of the nose is unlike anything I’ve ever smelled. Many other writers and reviewers have talked about the citrus in Anty Gin. Certainly, I get the parallel, but to be clear— it’s initially a completely foreign nose.
The best way to describe it is powdery, slightly vinegary. There’s an acrid, organic character to it— reminiscent of that kind of unusual indole note in jasmine flowers.
But to the taste, Anty Gin is almost entirely underwhelming to me. Pleasant juniper, a slight hint of lemon and lime zest with a slight earthy finish.
Overall, Anty Gin
Despite that initial unusual note, everything else was kind of by the numbers. While the classic flavor profile might do a lot of get the average gin drinkers over their fear of consuming insects— Anty Gin ultimately underwhelms as a merely “very expensive” classic style gin.