Amázzoni, the award-winning premium gin being introduced to travel retail at the Summit of the Americas through Duty Free Global this year, is a 100% Brazilian product from its ingredients to its manufacturing.
“Amázzoni, which today is the most widely sold craft gin in Brazil, was the first Brazilian gin,” explains its creator, Arturo Isola. “It is produced in a distillery located on an 18th century coffee farm located in the Paraíba Valley, Rio de Janeiro State. We converted it especially for gin production, making it the first exclusive gin distillery in Brazil and the largest craft gin distillery in Latin America.”
Amázzoni Rio Negro was awarded a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2019, and was named the Best World Craft Producer of the Year at the World Gin Awards in London in 2018 — the only Latin American distillery to ever win this accolade, reports Isola.
“We are artisanal, local and independent,” he proudly tells TMI.
Amázzoni also brings together five Brazilian ingredients never explored before as botanical principles in a gin: In addition to the more traditional elements of Juniper berries, laurel, lemon, coriander, tangerine and pink pepper, Amázzoni features first-time ingredients from the heart of the Amazon rain forest: cocoa, Brazil nut, maxixe, victoria regia, and cipò cravo, says Isola, making it distinctly different and distinctly Brazilian.
Ironically, Amázzoni was originally created in a 5-liter glass still in Isola’s kitchen in Rio de Janeiro. An architect by training, Isola was living and working in Brazil for six years when – missing the Negroni he enjoyed in Italy – tried to make his own gin.
“So one year and a half, every weekend, I became ‘the little Italian alchemist,’ distilling one batch after another. My friends all offered to be official tasters.
“But gin is all about botanicals and so my family and I started journeying through Brazil, hunting new ingredients, especially in the Amazon forest. It was there I had the call to do something actively to help preserve the Amazon forest.”
Since then Isola says he has been doing his part to support an indigenous tribe with whom he developed a relationship. In addition, to make his recipe really unique, and to understand Brazil through its eco-system, he started testing botanicals sourced straight from the rain forest, to see how they reacted with the alcohol.
“This became an amazing experience. It took many tries, many changes in direction, but when the recipe was finally ready, it was perfect for me, because it represented Brazil so well: diversity, liberality, informality, joy — a continent. I felt that I had successfully introduced all these characteristics into the liquid. So finally –a Brazilian gin!”
At that time, there were no gins in Brazil, he said. “Brazil was not part of the crusade for gin consumption.”
“But creating this new gin moved me, although it was still a hobby. But we were only making it in a 5-liter glass still. Would it work when made in a profession still?”
Isola started looking around Rio at the cachaça distilleries for a place to test his recipe.
With a goal to make just one batch as a test, he came across an old property that dated to 1717 — “it was paradise and so Brazilian” –but the owner refused to allow Isola to test his gin in the cachaça facility. But he showed Isola an abandoned room on the property that he could use to set up his own distillery.
“This building with its Brazilian Colonial heritage with its huge windows looking straight to the forest convinced me to dedicate myself entirely to this mission. And I dedicated the entire next year to build the distillery, design the bottle, the label, the concept—and to define the consistent story through which this brand would promote and raise awareness of the preservation of the Amazon rain forest.”
The distillery also uses its own water from three springs on the property. Moreover, Isola says that 50% of the water originates in the Amazon.
After finishing the distillery and beginning production, Isola says the challenge was to “evangelize gin to Brazilians.”
“Brazil has woken up to gin and has become a gin giant. But Amázzoni is still the first and gin distillery in Brazil,” he says.
Export is a different challenge.
“Amázzoni has to explain who we are I n a crowded market,” he admits.
One way Amázzoni is making a name for itself internationally is through a branded Amázzoni cocktail competition which it launched last year, which not only aims to demonstrate the excellence of their Brazilian gin, but also to raise awareness of the importance of preserving the Amazon rainforest. It was so successful, that a second edition has been created for this year. With local competitions taking place between May and October, the finalists will meet in Rio de Janeiro for the final next November.
The Amázzoni portfolio that will be shown at the Summit of the Americas consists of:
The Amázzoni Gins to be shown at the show include :
- Amázzoni Gin – 42% ABV – the first craft gin of Brazil. This London dry gin is distilled from pure cereal alcohol and natural spring water. With 5 botanicals exclusively from Brazil and the Amazonian rainforest and 5 more classic gin botanicals.
- Amázzoni Rio Negro – 51% ABV – includes 8 botanicals
from Brazil and the Amazonian Rainforest. The first Brazilian gin to gain a Double Gold Medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
- Amázzoni Maniuara is the first ever Brazilian Old Tom and, with just 38% ABV, the lightest gin on the Brazilian market. It is distilled from pure cereal alcohol and natural spring water and much delicate and fresh than previous recipes and includes a new botanical to its recipe: lemongrass
Amázzoni support for the NGO Vem do Xingu: Trees. Water. Oxygen. Wildlife. Life.
Amázzoni supports the NGO Vem do Xingu, an arrangement with 27 canteens linked to local associations from 5 Indigenous Lands in a territory of about 9 million hectares of conserved forests in the Amazon. The canteens are commercial warehouses managed by indigenous people, where they can exchange local Brazilian products for money or items. This network is also fundamental for strengthening traditional peoples to deal with the pressures suffered by the forest and its people in one of the most threatened regions of the Amazon Rainforest. Website: www.terradomeio.org