UK-based drinks company The Cambridge Distillery has partnered with the Nordic Food Lab to create a gin that is infused with the chemical pheromones of red wood ants.
Anty Gin, which retails at £200 ($315) per bottle, contains the formic acid of around 60 red wood ants collected from forests in Kent by a team of wild plant specialists. The gin also contains organic English wheat, wood avens (small woodland flowers), nettles and Alexanders seeds (a type of edible plant).
Red wood ants are found in forests around the Northern Hemisphere within large mounds of earth, which they defend by spraying predators with the formic acid they produce in their stomachs. It is this acid that is used to create the drink. Formic acid is very reactive when brought into contact with alcohol – producing a distinct aroma and flavour that is captured in the gin.
The Nordic Food Lab is known for its innovative approach to food research. The research institute previously partnered with Danish beer giant Carlsberg to create a range of specialty beers featuring unique ingredients such as bee larvae, woodruff and cucumber.
Insects are becoming increasingly common in western food and beverage launches. While some brands are producing freeze-dried insects, others are creating more subtle options such as flours, spreads, chips and protein bars. For more on this, see SIAL 2014: Future Food Trends. For further insight into insect cultivation, see Culinary Crickets for Mass Consumption and Future Farming.