An Artisanal Gin That Puts Shanghai, China on the Global Craft Spirits Map

Peddlers Gin showcases the intricate richness of Chinese botanicals and how they contribute flavour and layers to gin-making.

21 January 2024

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Photo Caption: Described as “unique and finely balanced,” Peddlers Gin appeals to discerning and adventurous drinkers. | Photo credit: Peddlers Gin

Unlike countries like the UK, the United States, and Germany, China isn’t widely recognised for their gin — neither for making it, nor drinking it. The drinking scene in China is dominated by beverages like baijiu, beer, and rice wine. Hence, there’s a prevailing perception that mainstream spirits labelled as ‘Made in China’ couldn’t compete with international brands and similar counterparts.

Peddlers Gin, which proudly stakes its claim as the world’s first Shanghai Gin, aims to challenge that notion.

Fergus Woodward, director of the gin company, says “the amazing native Chinese ingredients, the history of local craftsmanship, and the world-class Shanghai nightlife” were in fact what inspired them to create Peddlers Gin. 

Their distinctive approach involves close collaboration with Chinese farmers to procure the finest local ingredients such as Sichuan pepper and Buddha’s hand. Ingredients that are not commonly used for gin-making.

Photo caption: Peddlers Gin works closely with farmers in sourcing the finest local ingredients.  | Photo credit: Peddlers Gin

Their Sichuan peppers are sourced from Qingxi, 150 miles southwest of Chengdu. Considered the most fragrant and prized peppers on the market, these contribute floral and spicy undertones to the final product. The Buddha’s Hand which is a citrus fruit used to create liquors, syrups, and teas, originates from Yunnan and shares a taste reminiscent of lemon zest but with an added floral note. The drink is a fusion of 11 rare botanicals with pronounced notes of Buddha’s hand, Sichuan pepper and lotus combined with juniper and other organic botanicals.

“When we created Peddlers Gin, we saw the opportunity to create a spirit that reflected the unique ingredients China has to offer,” Woodward offers. “We travelled around China (mainly by slow train) visiting farms to find the best ingredients to help us tell this story.” Each year, they also actively participate in the pepper harvest season in Hanyuan County, situated just outside Chengdu.

Through meticulous blending, they were able to craft a flavour profile that’s “unique and finely balanced,” setting it apart in the world of spirits.

Photo Caption: The company prides its Shanghai Gin on garnering multiple awards from at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and China Wines and Spirits Awards. | Photo credit: Peddlers Gin

Window to the World

The brand likewise takes its cue from the fact that Shanghai is a melting pot of cultures. “We take this attitude with us: combining ingredients from across China, a commitment to creativity and craftsmanship, and a strong appreciation of the city’s bustling nightlife,” Woodward says.

  Photo Caption: Their award-winning Barrel Aged Gin  | Photo credit: Peddlers Gin

The company prides its Shanghai Gin on garnering multiple awards at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC) and China Wines and Spirits Awards (CWSA). They have also garnered a lot of media attention, including being named among the  Best Asian Gin Brands To Add To Your Bar Shelf by August Man.

Their Barrel Aged Gin has been recognised as one of the “best examples of its category” by the SFWSC. Rested and refined for three months in French oak barrels previously used for Napa Valley pinot noir, this gin exudes notes of smooth caramel, smoked Sichuan pepper, Pinot Noir grapes, and fresh stone fruit.

Innovation on the Horizon

Since its inception in a garage in Shanghai in 2016, the brand has made significant strides. Peddlers Gin is now available in 20 countries—owing its expansion to the support and opportunities extended by the people of Shanghai and China, coupled with the dedicated efforts of their team.

  Photo Caption: Peddler’s Gin is stocked at some of the leading bars across Asia and the globe  | Photo credit: Peddlers Gin Company via Instagram

Peddler’s Gin is stocked at some of the leading bars across Asia and the globe, and lends its complex flavours to a variety of cocktails such as the Milk Punch at Magda Bar in Auckland, The Vibrant Cocktail at The Cocktail Bar at The Merchant Hotel, UK and at a variety of libations at Quinary, Hong Kong (No.31 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023). These, are among several others in Asia and beyond.

  Photo Caption:Peddlers Gin in a Cocktail | Photo credit: Peddlers Gin Company via Instagram

Looking to the future, Peddlers Gin recently unveiled another iteration of gin that continues to celebrate the flavours of China. The Salted Plum Gin. A China-inspired take on Sloe Gin, this variant infuses gin with Suan Mei flavours like Salted Plum, Osmanthus, and Hawthorn, aged in Oloroso sherry barrels for six months, resulting in a distinctive dry finish.

In the realm of spirits, Peddlers Gin stands as a testament of Chinese craftsmanship and the spirit of Shanghai. As the world’s first Shanghai Gin, it not only pioneers a unique flavour profile

but also invites enthusiasts to savour the essence of Chinese culture in every sip.

Author: Rhia Grana

Contributor Rhia Grana, is an experienced drinks and spirits writer and a prominent lifestyle journalist in the Philippines for over two decades. Her work has appeared in Esquire Manila and ANCX, the lifestyle and culture website of ABS-CBN News Channel among others. She is passionate about covering personalities, culture, trends, health, and travel.

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