Round Turn's Bimini gin named one of best in the world
By ALAN BENNETT - Staff Writer
BIDDEFORD — Biddeford’s own Round Turn Distilling is celebrating a monumental achievement as its flagship product, Bimini Gin, has been labeled as, “among the finest products in the world.”
The gin was given the double-gold medal distinction at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in April, an honor owner and distiller Darren Case was surprised, but thrilled, to hear about.
“My initial thought was to feel very lucky that we managed to create a product that people enjoy,” Case said Friday.
He attributes the success of his product to what he calls a “more-modern” distillation process that tames the strong juniper taste — known for its “pine needle” flavor — found in similar products.
“The result of that method is that the pine tree flavor of the juniper berries … gets minimized in the flavor of our gin,” he said. “You end up with a much smoother, less-piney flavor that’s enhanced by the other ingredients we use.”
Those ingredients, listed on the distillery’s website as grapefruit zest, hops and coriander seedwere inspired by an India Pale Ale, or IPA, style of beer.
“The end result is sort of a very refreshing gin that’s perfect for summer drinks,” he said.
The SFWSC is held every year and features hundreds of spirits companies from across the globe. The spirits are judged on a blind-tasting, so the judges don’t know which sample they’re scoring.
To stand out among some of the world’s most popular gins, Case said, is an honor, particularly given the competition was judged by 43 renowned experts.Bimini Gin took home a double-gold medal from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in April. SUBMITTED PHOTO
“Each product gets judged on its merits, so you have a chance to really shine or make a name for yourself because you get ranked among the greats like Beefeater or Bombay (gins),” he said.
Round Turn was also noted by the judges’ panel for its growth. Case began bottling his flagship gin in 2015 and, in the last two years, has seen more than a 30 percent growth in sales.
Case said his prime location, with a combination-industrial manufacturing space and tasting room inside the Pepperell Mill Campus on Biddeford’s Main Street, has led to that growth.
A Kennebunkport native, Case said he moved back to Maine in 2014 after living and working in New York City for several years. He said he missed living along the coast of Maine, but found it hard to find a decent job upon his return.
“We decided in order to make life in Maine for ourselves, we wanted to start a business,” Case said of he and his wife.
“With Biddeford, there’s this sort of exploding entrepreneurial community of many other people of sort of similar age as we are all starting small businesses,” he said, also lauding the mill redevelopment in the city’s downtown. “For our case as an industrial manufacturer, we are able to be an industrial business right on Main Street of a great town, which is a very unique situation in many communities.”
But the company’s success would be nothing, he said, without the many other businesses that paved the way for its arrival.
Case said Round Turn is “riding on the coat tails” of businesses like Banded Horn Brewing Co., which neighbors Round Turn in the Pepperell Mill, as well as Elements Books Coffee Beer and Palace Diner.
“(They) were trailblazers in bringing folks to Main Street who might not otherwise come,” Case said. “We have greatly benefited from the people who opened in the year or two before we did.”
That growth hasn’t slowed down, either. According to Pepperell Mill Campus officials, six new commercial tenants will establish residency within the campus by Oct. 1.
Three of those businesses will occupy the Building 10 light industrial center, where James Beard Award-winning chefs Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley, with owner Arlin Smith, opened a 6,000-square-foot commissary kitchen in March.
The three men oversee Big Tree Hospitality, which owns celebrated Eventide Oyster Co., Hugo’s and The Honey Paw restaurants in Portland.
The six businesses — Viabella Card Company, Artezen Hair Lab, Intelligent Design Engineering, Lakonia Olive Oil Products, Nuts and Bolts Brewery and Hornet Water Sports — will bring 28 new jobs to the campus and the city’s downtown, according to mill officials.
“This means that 28 new people will go to lunch on Main Street,” a release from the campus reads. “They will buy coffee at Elements. They will bank locally. They will shop nearby. And they will patronize the many other mixed use businesses within the mill itself. These employees will add to the ongoing revival that Saco-Biddeford is experiencing.”
Case said his business brings something a little different to Biddeford’s Main Street — namely, an appreciation for fine spirits.
“We’re on a mission to introduce people to spirits as something to be enjoyed in the same way you’d enjoy a craft beer or a nice wine, versus just a generic type of alcohol that you mix with a soda,” Case said.
That mission is already taking off. In May, Bimini Gin was highlighted as one the“11 Exceptional Gins to Drink in 2017 by food and drink magazine Saveur.
“Citrusy and shakeable,” Bimini is, “ideal for mixing in a tall cocktail with, you guessed it, refreshing, citrusy drinks,” Saveur writer Dan Q. Dao writes.
Case said the publicity and public response to his product is welcome, and he hopes to continue the proud sentiments in the years to come.
“I think that we’ve been very gratified by the response we’ve had from the people who have taken a risk and come in and tried our product or had a cocktail … and found they’ve really enjoyed them and being able to contribute a slightly different experience that some of the other businesses we have in Biddeford.”
— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.