Please tell us who the Three Graces are…
We are Lila, Hara and Katerina, three passionate Greek women inspired by a Scotsman. Four people, two companies, sharing the same philosophy, passion and values. We have all been working in the drinks industry for years but we have different backgrounds and experience. Amazingly, we have found the way to maximise each other’s strengths and work perfectly as a team.
When did you start making gin?
The idea and the matchmaking between us was in February 2016, not quite Valentine’s Day but not far off. It took us 14 months of research and experimentation before we were able to launch in March this year.
Grace Gin by Three Graces arose from having three Greek women creating the gin. In Greek mythology, the Three Graces were reputed to be the daughters of Zeus and represented splendour, mirth and good cheer. We have captured that essence and applied it to our gin.
What is your secret ingredient?
Honestly, we wouldn’t know where to start: innovative and time-consuming techniques such as vapour infusion and slow distillation. However, if we had to choose, it would actually be two ingedients: “Meraki”, and a unique Greek botanical which is called kritamos (rock samphire).
“Meraki” is a unique Greek word for which there is no direct translation, but it pretty much means that when you do something you put your heart and soul into it. Kritamos is a fantastic Greek vegetable, only used for salads up until now, which grows in rocks near the sea. You can only find it during May and June. It’s well known locally as a very valuable superfood, but the reason for choosing it is because of its outstanding and unique aroma. We employ a woman to walk up and down the coast gathering the samphire – it has to get to us within two days to be fit for use. Last but not least we also use myrtle, the Three Graces symbol.
We have an idea of you halfway up a mountain in Greece, boiling up a concoction of steam and flowers, like ancient goddesses. Where in Greece is your distillery?
Our gin is produced near Chalkída, in Avantes Distillery, 80km north of Athens. Chalkída is on the island of Evia, well known for sunshine, a mild climate and fertile grounds. Avantes has been producing spirits since 1963 in a fantastic hand-made copper still, and the distillery is surrounded by orange trees. We use the blossoms to flavour our gin.
How has your business grown?
Grace Gin was released in March 2017, and is already in bars and cellars in cities and islands all over Greece. It feels everyone is talking about it. We’ve also started exporting to Germany, Cyprus and the UK, and we are inundated with enquiries.
What qualities do you each bring to your gin?
Partnerships can work only with deep understanding of each other’s strengths and capacities. Hara and Katerina bring their experience and family history (they are second generation distillers) and a passion for perfection, and Lila brings her international experience of drinks and marketing, as well as her patience and belief of investing in a difficult market.
Do you have a message for gin lovers in the UK?
You should really come to Greece to experience Grace Gin in the warmth of the sun, with the welcoming people. However, if you cannot visit Greece, then you should enjoy some of the wonderful flavours of Greek nature in the company of close friends and family.
Finally, what is Greek for “Cheers”?