Each bottle of Nordic Food Lab's Anty Gin contains formic acid distilled from approximately 62 wood ants.
The formic acid from Formica rufa is used for self-defense, and is "a very reactive compound in alcohol." The gin retails for £200 per bottle.
Formic acid (the simplest organic carboxylic acid, with the chemical formula HCOOH) is a very reactive compound in alcohol, serving as an agent for producing various aromatic esters. Furthermore, many of their chemical pheromones are the same volatile molecules, which we perceive as aroma. Through distillation of these wood ants, we can explore the tasty universe of these naturally occurring molecules and reactions, capturing the flavours of this fascinating species.
Over six thousand Formica rufa have been foraged and preserved by Forager, a team of wild plant specialists led by Miles Irving in the forests of Kent, UK. Each bottle of Anty Gin will contain the essence of approximately sixty-two wood ants. To support the distinctive flavour of the wood ant distillate and the characteristics of Bulgarian juniper berries, we have selected a handful of prime-quality, wild springtime botanicals to add complexity to the final blend: wood avens (Geum urbanum), nettle (Urtica dioica), and alexanders seed (Smyrnium olusatrum). In order to ensure exceptional quality of base alcohol, only 100% organic grown English wheat has been used for the spirit, and every distillation is carried out just one litre a time.