One bright brainwave, two remarkable results: Washington’s Peter Smith is making culinary use of the botanical byproduct of gin production known as ‘mash,’ and in doing so, is providing the gin industry for the first time ever with a sustainable market for its waste. He is the first chef in the country to cook with gin mash.
Distilleries typically throw away 30-40 pounds of spent botanicals for every batch of gin produced, a wet compound that looks like old brewed tea and tastes like super concentrated gin: an intense combination of juniper, orris root, lemon, coriander, and other flavors that is so highly alcoholic Smith says “it’s nearly a biohazard.” Working with the mash from two different gin distilleries, Blue Coat of Philadelphia, whose product is 95% organic, and Catoctin Creek of West Virginia, the first distillery in the area since Prohibition, Smith gives new life to the erstwhile waste product by converting it to aromatic oils and powders at his hip downtown restaurant, PS 7’s.
The used gin mash is going to use in his own experiments with charcuterie – a breseola modification with dry aged beef and a pancetta variation. I haven’t had these yet, but will plan on trying them the next time I’m hanging out at the bar, enjoying Gina Chersevani’s cocktails. Gina is also the brand ambassador for Blue Coat gin and I’m guessing she helped get this project rolling too.