Fruit importer and English distiller team up to make gin from surplus grapes

One of the UK’s biggest fruit importers, Richard Hochfeld, and English distiller, Foxhole Spirits, have teamed up to tackle food waste, launching a gin made from some of the 1.4 million punnets of table grapes thrown out each year.

The gin, called, Hyke, is set to launch on Global Recycling Day on 18 March. Working with Richard Hochfeld, Sussex-based Foxhole is using surplus internationally-sourced table grapes, which can’t be sold as fresh, to make its gin.

It is estimated that 713 tonnes of table grapes per year, the equivalent of 1.4 million punnets, are not suitable to be consumed fresh. This represents 2.7% out of the total volume produced which is around 500,000 tonnes, according to figures supplied by Foxhole.

Foxhole already uses wine grapes (vitis vinifera) in the production of its flagship gin. While a separate company, it works closely with Bolney Wine Estate to create a gin using the by-products of the winemaking process. It presses the unused juice out of the grapes before it’s then fermented and distilled, a process it deems important in reducing wastage in the English wine industry.

Its new gin, however, will have more of an international flavour, with a blend of botanicals which include juniper, coriander, myrrh, South African rooibos, angelica root, angelica seed, orris root, liquorice, aniseed, cumin, lemon zest, bay leaf, nigella seed, green cardamom and black cardamom. The spirit is said to have a “rich, sweet citrus” character with “spice and complex aromatics”.

Hyke, which has an ABV of 40%, will be available in a 70cl bottle format to the on-trade though Highball Brands, Foxhole’s UK distribution partner. Director of drinks at sales and marketing consultancy Scotch + Limon, Jamie Jones, has also created three signature serves using the new spirit.

Hyke has also gone on sale exclusively in 300 Tesco stores nationwide, priced at £24 per 50cl bottle. The UK supermarket is attempting to halve its food waste by 2030.

James Oag-Cooper, managing director and co-founder of Foxhole Spirits commented: “We knew that there was something special that could and ‘should’ be done with this quality by-product, so we applied our expertise and craftsmanship to the challenge. The result is a totally unique product which tastes exceptionally delicious, is beautifully presented, sustainably conscious and yet still affordable.”

The gin bottle is made from recyclable material with each detail of the process and materials considered for their environmental impact where possible. Richard Hochfeld sources grapes from 13 countries around the world and as part of its quality control measures, has a surplus of around 166 million table grapes.

Other gins made using grapes or grape distillate include Chapel Down’s spirit range, Chilgrove gin, Four Pillars’ Bloody Shiraz Gin and France’s G’Vine and Osmoz gins.

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