Diageo unveils new distillery and Villa Ascenti gin

by Melita Kiely

The world's leading spirits producer Diageo has opened a new €420,000 (US$469,000) distillery in Italy and added a super-premium gin to its portfolio – Villa Ascenti.

The launch of Villa Ascenti follows the completion of the Distilleria Santa Vittoria, located in Santa Vittoria, Italy, and the refurbishment of a Frilli copper pot still, which dates back to the 1970s. To begin with, Villa Ascenti gin will launch in 14 European countries from May – including the UK, Italy, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland and Poland – as Diageo aims to tap into the “fast-growing” super-premium gin market. Villa Ascenti will be part of the Diageo Reserve portfolio. According to data from Nielsen MAT to 23 February 2019, as quoted by Diageo, the super-premium and ultra-premium gin sectors grew 38.6% in volume and 41.3% in value in the UK. Tanya Clarke, general manager of Diageo Reserve Europe, said: “Gin has been the runaway success story of the industry over the last decade and its growth trend shows no signs of slowing down. “Villa Ascenti Gin is rooted in provenance and brings local, fresh ingredients from Piemonte to life. Its use of locally grown ingredients from the foothills of Piemonte, alongside some of the more classic botanicals associated with gin, has allowed us to create a high-quality liquid, which we hope existing and new gin drinkers will love.” To make the gin, Moscato grapes are harvested in August and September, and are then distilled three times. Lorenzo Rosso, master distiller for Villa Ascenti gin at Distilleria Santa Vittoria, said: “On the nose, the mint and thyme are vibrant and refreshing alongside the spice of the Tuscan juniper berries, whilst on the palate, the Moscato grapes really come to life. "Enhanced through copper distillation, the smooth, fruity flavour of this distillate rounds off zesty juniper notes to create a velvety, slightly sweet gin.” Bottled at 41% abv, Villa Ascenti will have an RRP of £35 (US$45) per 700ml bottle.