Why gin in a paper bottle is the future of eco-friendly spirits

·4 min read
best eco friendly drinks sustainable spirits bttles - Green Man
best eco friendly drinks sustainable spirits bttles - Green Man

The way our drinks are packaged has become increasingly interesting as eco-conscious producers attempt to move away from heavy glass bottles, and now a premium gin has been released which is, effectively, a bag-in-bottle spirit.

Green Man Woodland gin, made at Surrey’s Silent Pool distillery, looks at first glance like a normal glass bottle with a smartly designed cardboard wrapping and screw cap. But pick it up and you feel the difference. There is no glass here at all – the gin is inside a plastic bag with a cap, which is then encased in shaped thick paper.

It is wonderfully light – so much so that I shook the opaque bottle suspiciously, then poured its contents into a measuring jug to make sure the full 70cl was there (it was). The empty “bottle” weighs just 83g, while normal glass gin bottles usually come in at over 500g.

That in itself makes this an “eco spirit”, as it is much easier to transport. So does the fact that the cardboard (84 per cent of the pack) is simple to recycle, while the bag can be taken to a supermarket plastic bag recycling bin (if your local council doesn’t take it away). Frugalpac , the manufacturers, claim its carbon footprint is up to six times lower than a glass bottle.

And happily for gin lovers, Silent Pool has done a great job with the spirit, which is classical enough for purists but with delicious and balanced herby, woody notes. See my tasting note below.

A similar format has been used on Italian wines Cantina Goccia, but it’s especially interesting that this is a gin, as for many, a beautifully designed glass bottle is a big part of the modern spirit’s appeal.

Green Man Woodland gin is clearly not going to be a collector’s item once empty, but you may decide that, too, is part of its appeal.

And spirits might have an advantage over wine when it comes to this sort of packaging. Bag-in-box wines have improved considerably but, just like the newly popular wine in cans, not enough is known about how it will last over long periods of time. Gin is much more robust, being much stronger, so is more likely to keep well in a bag.

There are other, more selfish, advantages to buying drinks in this sort of packaging. First, it isn’t so darned heavy to lug from shop to home. Secondly, it isn’t breakable – well, not nearly as much as glass.

Frugalpac claims you can drop it from a height of two metres without suffering a burst bag. They also suggest it is more “courier proof”…

So, aside from not having a stunning empty bottle to re-purpose as a vase or water carafe, this all seems a jolly good idea. And in general, the move away from all glass containers for drinks is a positive one. I’ve recommended two other drinks below that, well, smash it.

Try these...

From left: Green Man Woodland Gin; West & Wilder Chenin Blanc; Banrock Station Merlot 2020
From left: Green Man Woodland Gin; West & Wilder Chenin Blanc; Banrock Station Merlot 2020

Green Man Woodland Gin, Silent Pool Distillers

Surrey, England (42%, silentpooldistillers.com, £30 for 70cl)

The botanicals here include rosehip, hawthorn and birch, and the result is a somewhat herbaceous gin, with warm woody notes and a twist of white pepper, with juniper still shining through. It is named after the legendary spirit of nature and new growth.

West & Wilder Chenin Blanc

Yakima Valley, Washington, USA (12.5%, amfora.london, from £6.35 for a 25cl can)

The West & Wilder canned wines are relatively pricey, but the quality of the contents is high – this is an excellent Washington State chenin blanc with peach, pear and apple flavours, perfect to take on a picnic.

Banrock Station Merlot 2020

Riverland, Australia (13.5%, Co-op, £7.50 for 75cl)

A juicy, easy-going Aussie with plenty of lightly spiced red berry and plum fruit. It comes in a flattened bottle made of 100% recycled plastic (PET), making space and weight savings as well as doing away with glass. The bottle weighs only 63g when empty.

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