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  • Writer's pictureSasha Huang

From Myth to Mixology: Ivan Pun on the Inspiration Behind WEIZZA Gin

INTERVIEW



Raise your glass to WEIZZA Gin, the new Burmese craft gin making waves in Hong Kong's vibrant scene. This gin company embodies Myanmar's rich culture and heritage, drawing inspiration from the mythical Weizza nymphs of Burmese folklore. Beyond its spirituous nature, WEIZZA Gin offers a cultural journey. Historically valued for its medicinal properties in Burmese culture, gin is a tradition honoured by its founders, Ivan Pun and JR Ching. They've meticulously crafted a gin that not only tantalizes the taste buds but also celebrates Myanmar's botanical treasures, sourcing ingredients from the wilds of central Myanmar. Celebrating its recent launch, Ivan Pun is here to give us a proper introduction.




1. Can you tell us about your new gin brand WEIZZA Gin and what inspired the launch?


Having lived in Myanmar for the past decade, I have found that it has so much to offer in terms of creative exploration, whether it’s aesthetics or food ingredients. There is so much content and it never gets harnessed into branded products. That’s been something that has always interested me: taking things from Myanmar and creating something that can be marketed globally, to show off what the country has to offer. My business made an investment in a local spirits distillery in Mandalay a city in Myanmar. During Covid-19, while international borders were closed, we were doing some domestic travel and I went up to see the facility, with my co-founder JR. We began to understand the process of making alcohol a lot more and realised we had a facility that was capable of making gin. It made sense to do gin with the ingredients available in Myanmar.



2. What makes WEIZZA Gin unique?


Weizza gin offers a sensorial adventure that combines the freshness of citrus, the creaminess of lactic texture, intriguing pine forest notes and a captivating finish with a hint of pu’er tea bitterness. It’s a gin that leaves a lasting impression and a desire to savour its unique flavours time and again.


We distill the gin twice, the result of this meticulous distillation process is a gin with a final alcohol content of 68 per cent. To achieve the desired drinking strength, the spirit is then carefully diluted down to 40 per cent. However, our commitment to quality doesn’t end there. We believe in the importance of allowing the flavours to harmonise and mature, so the gin is rested for a minimum of six months. This resting period allows the various elements to integrate and develop, resulting in a truly refined and balanced drink. The distillation process showcases our commitment to capturing the essence of our botanicals.



Weizza Launch Party


"That’s been something that has always interested me: taking things from Myanmar and creating something that can be marketed globally, to show off what the country has to offer."

- Ivan Pun, Co-Founder of WEIZZA



3. How has the craft gins in Hong Kong evolved in recent years?


The craft gin scene in Hong Kong has evolved in recent years. In the early 2010s, craft beer set the stage, and now, gin is at the forefront of this transformation. The evolution has been marked by an increasing interest in local flavors and a growing number of local brands.


Back in the late 2000s, when Hendrick's made its mark, gin began to carve out a significant niche in the Hong Kong market. Since that initial spark, we've seen a proliferation of gin available across the city, with selections expanding from around a hundred to nearly three hundred varieties in bars and stores. Artisanal producers are experimenting with local ingredients and distillation techniques, which is thrilling for connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike. The community’s palate has become more sophisticated, and there’s a genuine appreciation for the craft that goes into creating a bottle of gin.




4. What do you love about gin?


What I love about gin is its versatility and the complexity that comes from its botanicals. It's like a canvas for flavor, where each ingredient adds a layer to the overall taste profile. The orange blossom provides that signature, timeless foundation, but then you have this incredible opportunity to tell a story through the other botanicals you choose—be it something traditional or something wildly indigenous to a particular region. It's this narrative quality of gin, the way it can evoke a place or a feeling, that I find absolutely captivating.


Weizza Launch Party

"It's this narrative quality of gin, the way it can evoke a place or a feeling, that I find absolutely captivating."

- Ivan Pun, Co-Founder of WEIZZA




5. Are there any exciting collaborations that we can look out for with WEIZZA Gin?


As for WEIZZA, we're always looking to push the envelope, and yes, there are some exciting collaborations on the horizon. We're exploring 'botanical alchemy' in a way that merges tradition with innovation. Think along the lines of partnering with avant-garde chefs, perfumers, and botanists, to create experiences that transcend the typical gin-drinking experience. We want to explore how different botanicals can not only change the flavor profile of the gin but also how they interact with other sensory elements to create something truly immersive.


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All imagery is courtesy of WEIZZA and The Upper House.


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