By Sophie Wyckoff
After 14 years working in marketing and communications for L’Occitane en Provence in London, Thomas Bigourdan was ready for a change. A visit to a gin distillery gave him an idea.
“It was while I was visiting a distillery in the East of London that I started imagining my distillery,” he said.
In 2018, he founded Bigourdan Distillerie de Camargue, a gin distillery in Arles, that uses local products like immortelle (eternal flower), lavender, sage and thyme from the region to create a unique flavor. The gin is made from 13 ingredients, most of them grown in the Camargue.
“I wanted to make a ‘real’ London Dry, fairly classic and recognizable, then give it a sharp, almost brutal Camargue temperament,” he said in an interview posted on the company’s website. “I started from the sensations and impressions that can be experienced in the Camargue – the gasp, the salt crunching underfoot, the sand burned by the sun – to translate them into taste.”
Bigourdan said immortelle, tiny yellow flowers picked from the Camargue, give a warm and dry finish to the gin. Immortelle is also an antimicrobial compound that promotes skin cell regeneration and is used as an essential oil.
Currently, two flavors of gin are available to purchase, the original and the limited edition summer flavor, which includes essence of citrus. The limited edition is distilled in two batches which contain 500 liters, so when the product is gone, it’s gone. The original flavor and limited edition summer flavor come in a 50-centiliter bottle. The original sells for 41 euros, and the summer flavor for 43 euros.
On top of gin, Bigourdan also produces and sells three ready-to-serve cocktails. Negroni Matador uses the Immortelle plant for a maple syrup taste, Soho Negroni is a sweet orange taste, and the N°1 Negroni has a lemon and orange zest that grows at the foot of the distillery. The three bottles are packaged together for a selling price of 52 euros.
Bigourdan initially faced many challenges as a solo entrepreneur. He states how stressful his job was and how “you do everything on your own and can only count on yourself.”