London: UK's prestigious Cambridge University has opened a new area for its traditional rivalry with Oxford University by launching its own brand of gin.
The world-famous universities will go head to head with their own versions of the spirit as Cambridge announced plans for Curator's Gin to compete with Oxford's Physic Gin, which was launched earlier this year.
While Oxford University's gin costing 35 pounds has been distilled from plants in the university's botanic garden, Cambridge says its 40-pound version will combine its botanical influences with apples from a tree linked to the one associated with British physicist Isaac Newton and the famous fruit that fell on his head to get him thinking about gravity.
"We had already been making gins for a dozen Cambridge colleges, using botanicals from their college gardens, when the offer came [from the university] asking whether we would like to have the keys to the sweet cupboard," William Lowe, co-founder of the distillery, Cambridge Gin, told the 'Observer'.
"We were allowed unprecedented access to the university's botanic garden itself, which was the holy grail for us. As an area of academia, it has this wonderful range of botanicals that are simply not available anywhere else, which enables you to bring a degree of complexity to the gin that would otherwise be lacking from the distillation process," he said.
The Cambridge gin will have a variety of floral flavourings, and ingredients including lavender, an unusual "green ginger" rosemary and berries from the dozens of varieties of juniper grown in the garden.
After drawing on the expertise of the garden's curator, Sam Brockington, Lowe said he collected plant samples and took them to his gin laboratory in central Cambridge as well as the distillery two miles away in Grantchester.
He described a ginger rosemary as a "phenomenal" find.
The trend seems to be catching on as Leicester University has also recently allowed its students to conduct a gin-making experiment using plants from its own botanic garden.