Located in Mount Lebanon, the Rechmaya Distillery is the first of its kind to craft locally-produced gin.
After recently spending four years abroad, Maya Khattar and Chadi Naccour decided to return to their village Rechmaya to promote its beauty and begin their project.
We spoke to the couple to hear more about their journey.
Lebanon has lot of juniper trees yet you are the one of the first ones to create Lebanese gin. Why do you think that is?
The juniper used in gin is the juniperus communis kind, the common species used in most gins on the market. The juniper we have in Lebanon is either the excelsa or phoenicea kind, which is not used in gin production due to its potent taste. It also has lots of oils in it that are hard to tame. This being said, we managed to find a way to use the Lebanese juniper and create a unique product.
The Lebanese juniper is not common, and it took us six months, using different distilling and infusion techniques, to extract its flavor without making it taste bad
How did you become interested in gin?
[Chadi]: Gin has always been a favorite, as well as single malt. I enjoy the complexity of it, the layers it can have, and its aromas; and since we have all the elements needed, as well as our unique juniper growing wildly in Lebanon, I went to South Africa and studied craft distilling.
How long have you been working on the project?
We have been planning, testing and perfecting our distillery for over a year now. It wasn’t an easy task as we had full time jobs but now we are fully focused.
What makes Lebanese gin special?
The use of botanicals that we know, whether in our cooking, sweets or even soaps, gives our Lebanese gin, Jun, a taste that we are familiar with. The smell will fill you with nostalgia and the taste will transport you to memories you cherish.
Do you think gin could ever become part of the Lebanese food culture like arak and wine?
Absolutely! We love our country and we love our production, and anything that is produced in Lebanon can become part of our food culture, be it gin, beer or other products.
Tell us more about your range of gins.
So far we have one gin flavor, but we are in the process of widening our scope and experimenting with new botanicals to have a bigger variety.
What are your long-term goals?
We want to expand our portfolio and make more varieties of spirits. Our ultimate goal is to become key players in this big wave of craft, creating special handcrafted alcohol.