Not too long ago, Simon Ford found himself pondering the world of gin and wondering: is there a gin, somewhere in the world, that is versatile enough to be used in any what gin cocktail? Is there a reason why gin, a category of spirits almost exclusively used in cocktails, isn’t created with mixing in mind?
These questions have become an obsession, and this obsession has become a business model. Today, these questions have an answer: Ford Gin. A gin retro-engineered from the upside-down cocktail, which has quickly become a staple for amateur and professional mixologists around the world.
While the idea may seem simple, the execution was anything but. Gin cocktails vary widely and come from all corners of the globe, so the task of creating a truly versatile gin was nothing short of monumental. It took his small team of cocktails and industry royalty at The 86 Co – a spirits company he co-founded – more than 83 attempts to crack the code, and today that same mix of nine plants has earned its reputation as a cocktail gin.
“I think Fords was one of the first gins to fully take feedback from the bartending community into consideration, we weren’t just being polite, we were listening and responding to feedback and adjusting and tweaking our gin recipe and the design of our bottles accordingly. I know other products have sought feedback from the bartending community, but I think we were the first to fully embrace all informed feedback.
and suggestions we heard and implement them into our final product,” said Simon Ford.
Although not a solo venture, the company’s namesake, Simon Ford, has played a key role in the development of the gin, from the design and philosophy to the botanicals used and the bottle design. A leading voice in the bar and cocktail scene for over 20 years, Ford has traveled the world working with and learning from some of the best brands, bars and professionals on the planet. His experience ranges from judging global cocktail competitions to delivering seminars at prestigious conferences including the NY Food & Wine Festival and the Sydney Bar Show, and he has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal.
For Fords Gin, Ford has partnered with 11th generation distiller Charles Maxwell, whose family began making gin in London in the 17th century. Whether it’s genetics or just good mentorship, Maxwell has consistently produced award-winning gins over the years and was the first inductee into the Gin Magazine Hall of Fame.
Master distiller and founder of the contract distillery Thames Distillers, Maxwell and Ford entered into a partnership that seemed destined for the success that soon followed.
Since its first release in 2012, Fords Gin has won an impressive string of accolades, including best gin at the 2015 Paris awards, a gold medal at The 2016 Gin Masters awards and 97 points at the 2019 Ultimate Spirits Challenge. resulted in substantial growth for the company and as of 2019 they are now part of the prestigious Brown-Forman portfolio.
A quote from the judges of the Ultimate Spirits Challenge for Best London Dry Gin in 2019 read: “”A classic take on a London Dry formula, the beautifully composed botanical symphony is led by juniper hand in hand with coriander , the grapefruit tang corrals a sweet almond sweetness in this gin which makes it an excellent choice for dry martinis’.
The main reason Fords Gin has been so successful is that it has added reliability to an often sporadic industry sector. While gin has grown in every way with unique fruit flavors and botanical profiles, little has been done to make the spirit more accessible and usable for bartenders themselves, with just about every gin on the market begging for a different cocktail recipe to shine.
What Fords brings to the table is simplicity and consistency: there’s no more worrying about the bar trying to decide which bottle would best match which cocktail, and there’s no more to guess the base ingredient and wonder if it was the wrong choice. Fords Gin is a headache solver, a reliable and practical friend for mixologists everywhere.
If the 82 releases haven’t already caught your eye, a lot of work has gone into making this the ultimate bartender’s gin. What’s most interesting about the process is that the team worked backwards, starting with an analysis of the role each botanical plays in different gin cocktails. From this a preliminary recipe was born, which was then systematically developed into the product on sale today.
Ford’s London Dry Gin was designed both for and around cocktails, such as Negroni, Martini, Gimlet, Pegu Club, Bee’s Knees, Gin & Tonic, Bramble and Singapore Sling. Embodying their philosophy of making life easier for bartenders, the bottle itself has embossed measurements on the back for on-the-fly mixing. The front label features passport stamps for each of the approved cocktails listed above, a great selling point as to why such a gin hasn’t been made before. Even though the spirit itself has a common history, cocktails come from all corners of the globe.
As you would expect with Charles Maxwell behind the stills, Fords is a traditional London Dry style gin made a few miles from Buckingham Palace. The nine botanicals are steeped in pot stills for 15 hours to concentrate flavors and release oils before distillation, a process that gives Ford its signature weight and viscosity. The gin is then distilled for five hours in copper stills before being shipped to Newbridge, Scotland, where it is cut to 45 percent abv with pure spring water.
The botanicals are from Joseph Flach & Sons Ltd and include juniper berries, coriander seeds, lemon peel, orange peel, jasmine, angelica root, grapefruit peel, iris and cassia bark.
Fords London Dry Gin sells for $68.99 and is an essential feature for every back bar and home liquor cellar.