Within the expansive category of gin distillation, few embody the juicy and refreshing taste of California and even fewer are fully owned and operated by women. These distinctions are just part of what makes Future Gin so exceptional. Founded by four friends—Amy Atwood, Mary Bartlett, Freya Estreller and Natasha Case—Future Gin bottles the 50+ combined years of expertise in the food, wine and spirits industry that the team holds. Together the quartet created one of the first fully women-owned and -operated distilled gins in existence, an optimistic spirit in taste and values.
As veterans of the industry, the team behind Future Gin doesn’t take distillation or their title as early pioneers within a male-dominated space lightly. Estreller, who co-founded Coolhaus Ice Cream, tells us, “Back in 2009, when we would do an event at a trade show, we were never ever thought of as the owners of the company. They thought we were employees or worked in marketing or were the sample girls. People always ask us, ‘Who’s the owner?’ They would never assume us.”
“When I was a bartender or bar manager or beverage director, when I was doing well in my career, I still didn’t really know how to dream bigger,” Bartlett tells us. “I think that has to do with not really seeing a lot of women owners in my career.” Sharing similar experiences, it was easy for the co-founders to recognize each other within the industry and eventually bond.
When Atwood got the idea to make a gin nearly four years ago, the women combined their varied backgrounds and tastes to create a terroir-driven spirit that pays homage to where they all met: Los Angeles. Bartlett says that immediately, “We knew we wanted to feature a lot of California flavors.”
Bright and juicy, the gin is smooth before giving way to a layered composition that beautifully balances citrusy notes with its earthier counterparts. These flavors stem largely from the unexpected inclusion of avocado and grape leaves, which further endow the gin with notes of the state. In fact, all the botanicals are domestically sourced with nearly all of them being from local Southern California farms. This includes the Meyer lemon, grapefruit and other citrus ingredients that are fresh and hand-peeled to preserve taste. Other ingredients, like honeysuckle, grains of paradise and elderflower, are unique additions that add depth but not overwhelmingly so.
“Gin is such a cocktail spirit so we wanted it to work in a lot of classic gin drinks. There are so many delicious gins and a lot of them—when I was bartending—were awesome in a negroni or collins, but they weren’t super-versatile. I ended up picking the same London dry gins over and over again, so we wanted a gin that still works in all of those classics even though it’s not as dry as a London dry,” Bartlett says. With versatility at the top of mind, Future Gin’s combination of ingredients atypical to the spirit makes it an intriguing solo sipper while still being an excellent cocktail base.
Distilled in downtown Los Angeles with a non-GMO corn base spirit from Idaho, Future Gin uses a combination maceration process, where some of the botanicals soak in the natural spirit for several hours before being put in a still. Then, the rest of the lighter ingredients are put in a basket where the notes are extracted using the vapors of distillation. “That’s where we get our softer flavors,” explains Barlett.
Estreller continues, “It’s also interesting to note that we don’t use chill filtration. So it has a smoother mouthfeel at the end, it’s less energy intensive and it gives it that brightness.”
Those bright flavors are reified by the brand’s ethos to work toward a more progressive world. “We wanted to evoke a sense of optimism,” says Estreller. “We wanted to create a delicious, Los Angeles-inspired gin but also to inspire action.” Most recently, Future Gin has raised over $8,000 for Plan C pills during a time when women’s reproductive rights are in jeopardy. Every year, the company donates 10% of their profits to various organizations, including the Downtown Women’s Center Los Angeles. Bartlett says, “Being women and being queer women in business is already political, so we don’t feel the need to shy away from voicing our opinions.”
From bright flavors to optimistic futures, Future Gin’s essence can be summed up by the bottle’s design which is inspired by a vintage sunscreen label. Colorful and geometric, the graphic has a timeless feel that abstractly depicts an arrow. “The bottom part of the arrow sort of reminds me of California: progressive, classic and not too trendy,” says Estrella. More importantly, she continues, the arrow feels “very forward-moving,” as if pointing toward the kind of future that Estrella, Bartlett and the rest of the team are hopeful for.
Images courtesy of Future Gin