What does a hike through Chilean Patagonia’s dense forests smell and feel like? Five years ago, Argentina-born master distiller and former investment banker Sebastian Gomez Camorino set out to answer that question and, as he describes it, “put Patagonia in a bottle.”
“I wanted to make something that tastes good, that could only be made there with what’s available,” Gomez Camorino says. The region doesn’t produce the grains for whiskey or the juniper for gin, but it is lush with herbs and fruits. For two years, Gomez Camorino learned from the indigenous Mapuche community and experimented with ingredients until he arrived at a recipe for Patagonia’s first new distilled spirit, Träkál (which means “first warrior into battle” in the Huilliche language).
Made in the south-central Chilean town of Osorno and released last summer, the clear liquor has an apple- and pear-brandy base that is triple-distilled with concentrates of four wild berries and essential oils extracted from seven native herbs, which are handpicked by the local community. Every ingredient, from antioxidant-rich maqui berries to indigenous tepa leaves, is collected within 100 kilometers of the distillery. “We created something new,” says Ben Long, who cofounded the brand along with Gomez Camorino and Matthew O’Brien, “but we had to go to the end of the world to do it.”
In North America, Träkál is currently available in British Columbia, Georgia, and Colorado (spirit hounds can order it from Denver’s The Proper Pour). The distillery also plans to launch in California, Peru, and parts of Europe later this year—meaning the end of the world may be even closer than we all thought.