Influencer: Ivan Chang, Two Moons Distillery

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Ivan Chang, the co-founder of Hong Kong’s innovative Two Moons Distillery, talks about the city’s changing drinking culture, the challenges of building a craft distillery from scratch, and capturing an east-meets-west flavour profile in the company’s recently released Signature Dy Gin.

What inspired you to make a Hong Kong gin?

It simply goes back to my love for gin. Before I began my adventures in distilling, I used to infuse my own gins and experiment with different botanicals to see what flavours worked. The spontaneous idea came in 2017, when I thought “why hasn’t anyone distilled gin in Hong Kong before?” And that’s when it all began.

The city doesn’t have much in the way of a distilling culture; is that about to change?

Over the last decade, the city has been undergoing lots of positive changes in our drinking culture. With an increase in festivals promoting the wonderful world of craft spirits, specialty bars catering to a specific crowd and even specialised courses for people who want to learn more about wine and spirits, Hong Kong people are becoming more sophisticated in terms of what they choose to drink than ever before. As a pioneer in making craft gin in Hong Kong, I anticipate our launch will definitely catalyse the development of a distilling culture here; as a strong sense of community has always been ingrained in our Chinese culture, I believe gin is made to be shared and enjoyed and so I am looking forward to connecting with people and inspiring others.

Two Moons Distillery

What flavour profile were you looking to create and which botanicals did you choose to achieve this?

The concept of our Signature Dry Gin is to create a dry gin that is elegant and well-balanced with a complexity that makes it sippable even on its own. By incorporating 12 different botanicals from around the world – one-third of which are of Asian in origin – the recipe makes for a gin that begins on the nose with crisp and citrusy aromas thanks to fresh lemon peel, pink peppercorns, dried tangerine peel, and dried rose petals.

On the palate, sweet and nutty notes arise from Chinese apricot kernels, Madagascan vanilla pod and tonka beans, before leading the gin to finish with rounding flavours of juniper, coriander seed, green cardamom, orris root and liquorice root, culminating in a delicate and rounded gin that brings you on a mesmerizing adventure on the palate.

These botanicals were carefully chosen to respect classic London Dry Gin flavours but also to boast an Asian flair, making it truly the embodiment of Two Moons’ ethos – staying curious. While it is important to remember the traditions that root us, we don’t let them hinder our creativity.

Tell us about your big beautiful copper still Luna.

Here at Two Moons Distillery, it has taken endless passion, patience, critique, and persistence to create a quality gin that we are incredibly proud of, none of which would have been possible without our hero still, Luna. Named fittingly for her moon-shaped helmet, she is a custom-built copper pot still handcrafted by the famous German producer Müller GmbH. Hammered by hand and taking over a year to be crafted into the copper beauty she is today, we decided to pay tribute to our hero by coining her as Earth’s second moon, where one can find the finest spirits hidden in the depths of her copper craters, hence our name “Two Moons”.

In terms of production volume, she is perhaps the smallest among the commercial stills in the industry. At her maximum capacity of 100L, It takes about 6 hours to produce around 100 bottles of our gin.

Two Moons Distillery

What’s been the biggest challenge to opening a distillery in Hong Kong?

Without any references before us, I’d say everything; from finding the right place to sourcing the right machinery, everything had to be well thought out. We faced particular difficulties in getting the right licences in Hong Kong. There had been an uncountable number of meetings with different government parties to ensure our distillery practices complied with local law and safety requirements, while still staying practical for daily operation.

Luckily, everyone we met was very supportive. I will never forget how happy we were the day our Liquor Manufacturing Licence was approved! After two years of hard work, we were finally able to see the first drop of gin flow out of Luna in September this year.

What suggestions would you offer to other would-be distillers?

Stay curious, be open to constructive criticism and keep working to improve yourself. Having an open mind is also important, but it’s always a balance between that and not making compromises on things you believe are important. Don’t be afraid to share the knowledge, keep honing your skills and eventually you will enjoy the fruits of your hard work.

Any plans to extend the Two Moon range?

Our Signature Dry Gin is only the first step. Having a distillery allows us to be more flexible in our experimentation so expect to see some new flavours and creative ideas this coming year!

For more Society inspiration click here.


About Author

Nick Walton is a Hong Kong-based photojournalist and Group Managing Editor for Artemis Communications, producers of Alpha Men Asia, Ultimate Encounters, The Art of Business Travel, IKHLAS, Heavens Voyage, and many other titles.

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