When enjoying the finer things in life, context is all. Beautiful artwork must be tastefully framed and lit; exquisite clothing must be carefully pressed; and the most delicious drinks are best enjoyed with the right setting and presentation. “We produce luxury spirits of high integrity and exceptional quality – but we’re also about creating an experience,” explains Dominic Limbrey, Founder and CEO of DJ Limbrey Distilling Co.
The company’s story starts in Asia. With a background in design, Dominic worked for corporate multinationals and then set up a supply-chain business. “I was helping a gin brand export their product into Asia,” he says. “Ultimately, that firm decided the market wasn’t for them – but, by then, I was so immersed in all things gin-related that I was hooked for life! I loved it, and decided to form my own brand.”
Concerned that the spirit was misunderstood and under-appreciated, Dominic produced an elegant and nuanced gin that would appeal to a discerning international audience. “We balance juniper with a mix of coriander, citrus, angelica, almond and liquorice with a kick of nettles,” he says. “It means that D1 Gin lasts a long time on the palate. Rather than the firework of punchy flavour that you get with many gins, D1 is complex and smooth, with an intricacy and a delicacy.”
D1 Gin was launched in 2014 and, in its first year, was awarded the highest medals at the global Gin Masters competition. Dominic has since been collaborating with international artists and artisans. “A lot of people know us as the gin with the skull on it,” Dominic laughs, referring to the iconic artwork of acclaimed artist Jacky Tsai, whose blue floral skull adorns the D1 Gin bottle. “It’s linked to our inherent British character. I was recently in Derby, home of one of the finest English bone china producers, Royal Crown Derby. They made us a drinking cup in a skull shape, embossed with flowers and a bird.”
For Dominic, the D1 brand is about creating lifestyle experiences, and the annual D1 International Cocktail Exchange is a case in point. It sees some of the world’s top bars and restaurants swapping their signature cocktail recipes. “It’s a chance to travel through taste,” says Dominic. “You could be in a bar in Vancouver drinking a cocktail that’s also being served in London or Beijing. We make recipe cards that are served with the drinks, so you can read about the venue it originated from, the ingredients, and the place you’re drinking it.”
Today, DJ Limbrey Distilling Co also produces a luxury potato vodka, and Dominic’s latest concept is a range of cold infusion pockets: DJ’s Cold Infusions. “Each is created by a master blender,” he says, “and each of the six flavours are made from 100 per cent natural botanical and fruit blends. Blend No.1 offers an opportunity for people who want a non-alcoholic drink to enjoy the flavours of gin – with juniper berries, burdock, cardamom and a range of botanicals – in a soda. No alcohol, no sugar, but all the flavour profile in a proper adult drink. Alternatively, you could bang an infusion pocket in D1 to give a different flavour profile, without any bitterness or unnatural sweetness.”
For Dominic, the D1 brand is about “integrity, opulence and quality”. But most of all, Dominic wants people to have the best experience possible, combining traditional distilling craft with contemporary art and a truly international outlook.