Others step into the world of spirits making from the service industry. Or, some people stock their bar carts with inspiration from their favorite celebrities. Others, like Daniel Nguyen, have taken less traveled roads, in this case through fields.
Nguyen spent some time working in agroforestry, databased native crops and seeds in places like Louisiana. Nguyen, founder of Son He Kai Distillery, said, “The common denominator when working with farmers is that if there is enough surplus prize money, the end result of farming tends to be alcohol. ” explains.
Driven by a desire to preserve, rather than simply document, native plants, Nguyen launched Song Kai in Hanoi in 2018, making it Vietnam’s first dedicated gin producer.
Located near the farms and ingredients where Sông Cái gin is made, of Vietnam in many ways. “I wanted a product made in Vietnam,” he says, Nguyen. “French in Vietnam he can grow it like a rose or a Damascus rose and call it a local product, but we choose a heirloom or heirloom variety and directly support the farmers that way. I am trying.”
This orientation is not limited to plants. Sông Cái works closely with communities such as Red Dao in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. It ranged from sourcing and paying for natural materials to “investing in facilities co-owned by the community or wholly owned by the community.”
All this to answer the abstract and ever-open question of what Vietnamese gin should be.
It’s questionable that Nguyen is still five years into making spirits, but so far, they’ve produced three gins: Sông Cái’s dry gin, floral gin, and spiced roselle. The latter is styled like Amaro. “It combines an homage to traditional Vietnamese fruit his liqueurs with a slight nod to Vietnamese herbal his liqueurs,” says Nguyen. At the distillery, he marinates rose myrtle berries and roselle buds in a gin base for over a year. The result is a bright red drink that is perfect to drink like an aperitif. Floral and tropical aromas are complemented by spice and a woody, earthy finish.
The bright ruby color is also an auspicious color for Chinese New Year, or Tet in Vietnam. Family altar offerings also often include some form of alcohol for loved ones who have died of thirst. We also recommend topping it with beer and finishing with fresh lime or mint.
“This year is a time to celebrate and wish you good luck for the coming year. Part of that is necessarily drinking,” says Nguyen.