For gin, it appears, has made its presence known in the most unthinkable of places. Nestled between Contumil and Campagna train stations, lies the relatively unknown but beautiful Jardim de Corujeira (Garden of Owls) with its gargantuan Platanus trees overlooked by the Estádio do Dragão just to the North West.
This area is not only an area of interest for the Câmara Municipal do Porto and their extensive revitalisation plans for the city, but for Travis Cunningham, Founder of Scoundrels Distilling Co and producer of INVICTA GIN, alongside his family calling this secret part of Porto home. Upon entry to the distillery you immediately face the Gin School, a steampunk throwback with chemistry paraphernalia, beakers, condensers, and beautiful copper Alembic Stills sitting upon scaffold held worktops all contrasting perfectly in front of jet black subway tiles. The next sensory overload you’ll notice will be the aromatic nature of the air, cinnamon, orange, all spice, tangerine (amongst others) all containing the fundamental essential oils that flavour their various gins. For a price, one has the chance to make their own 50cL bottle of personalised Gin, with each participant able to distil and pick and choose the flavour profile they desire for their Gin tipple.
Going through the Gin School’s distilling room, the space opens to reveal the larger production engine of the facility. As you enter you sight the source of the aroma, as shelf upon shelf of herbs and aromatics greet your entry into the distiller’s main production space. High ceilings and large containers line the back wall, a large still, capable of producing 30,000 bottles per year, sitting proudly in the back corner. As Travis explains his process, I notice an art gallery on one of the walls, which is explained to be a space offered for local photographers and painters, free of charge, granting the budding artists a feasible space to get their work known. As we continue to the final section of the distillery, which houses dry storage and filled bottles, we learn more of the distillery’s sustainability goals and focus on creating an environmentally friendly product. With all their bottles designed for reuse once empty, the glass tops make them ideal for the storage of olive oil or other liquids. All the water used during production is recycled and every decision is made conscious of the environmental impact it may have.
This Distillery came about after years of planning, but it was for the supply of used Port Barrels that made Porto the location for the distillery with Gin forming Part 1 of production goals and Rum being the main goal and Part 2 of the distillery’s ambitions. An avid fan of the story of their project we finally sat to try the Gin on offer, a selection of the distillery’s three signature Gins, or “Gin Flight”. The flight included an International Dry (44%), a Navy strength (57%) and a Portuguese Citrus (42%), the latter made with a combination of citrus peel from around Portugal and tangerine peel from a single tree in the Douro, harvested and meticulously peeled, dried and stored by the family at the distillery. To accompany the Gin, Fever Tree tonic, Purified Ice (no tap water here) and a variety of cheeses, lest we forget the olives and bread offered to all those aboard their journey. Wheels up I can honestly say I was beyond impressed, the flavour profile of each individual Gin, each perfectly balanced with their signature botanicals and well-rounded finish. The measures are fair, and trust me when I say, beware of the Navy Strength Gin, it kicks like a mule but, in my humble opinion, was the crown jewel of their collection My colleague preferred the Citrus notes of the Portuguese Citrus, where the grapefruit, tangerine and other botanicals harmoniously left the palate wanting for more.
The distillery is open by appointment only and can cater for groups both small and large with the Gin School able to cater for 8 people at a time. Due to ongoing Covid regullations the website will be updated to keep customers aware of any changes or restrictions to bookings and opening times.
For more information you can visit www.scoundrelsdistilling.com where you can reserve a Gin Flight or a Gin School and order INVICTA GIN online. You can also follow them on social media via #invictagin.
If you are a budding artist and want to do an exhibition you can contact the team directly to discuss their space.