Oyster Shell Gin Is One Restaurant Chain's Answer to Reducing Waste
Half Shell Gin uses shells and seaweed for flavor.
After slurping down an oyster, many people return the shell to its bed of ice upside-down. Beyond showing your companions which oysters have been eaten, the move also offers a feeling of finality—of accomplishment. I ate that oyster! And yet, no matter how you flip it, that oyster shell is getting tossed in the trash like all the others. But the London seafood chain Wright Brothers has finally found a use for its oyster shell waste: making oyster shell gin.
Wright Brothers Half Shell Gin is produced using the leftover shells from the restaurant's oyster dishes. "We use Carlingford oyster shells, which are cold-macerated in neutral spirit and then distilled," Ivan Ruiz, Wright Brothers beverage manager, explained. The brand has worked with the Carlingford oyster farm in Ireland for over a decade. "We then add a percentage of the distillation to the gin. The oyster shell taste is then balanced with kelp seaweed and other ingredients, like juniper and Amalfi lemon. The result is a savory gin with high mineral notes and a pink pepper finish."
Wright Brothers bills the gin—which is produced by London's The Ginstitute—as a sustainable way to reuse oyster shells. It's not the Ginstitute's first nontraditional creation: The distiller also makes the brand Portobello Road which, in recent memory, released a "turkey breast gin" in 2017 and a low-ABV gin intended to mix gin and tonics with as little alcohol as a light beer earlier this year.
As for Half Shell Gin, Wright Brothers says the best way to enjoy it is to bring the spirit full circle. "Half Shell Gin is the perfect pairing to a cold platter of oysters and best served in a classic gin martini to balance the briny nature of oysters or seafood," Ruiz suggests. Or beyond enjoying the gin in-house, bottles can also be bought at four of Wright Brothers five locations for £28 a pop—about $36.