Kirkjuvagr Aurora Gin

Note: The team at Orkney Distilling kindly sent me a bottle of Aurora gin to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I think.

Back in May 2017, I tried Kirkjuvagr gin (pronounced kirk-u-vaar) and since then, the Orkney Distilling team have grown their range with a navy strength gin and two seasonal editions. Today we are trying their winter Aurora gin. Named after the Aurora Borialis, a phenomenon that appears in the sky over Orkney as winter draws in, this gin is inspired by cosying up by the fire – cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves bring a warmth alongside pink and black peppercorns. They recommend pairing this with ginger ale to amp up the spice. So, how does it taste?

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Kintyre Gin

Note: I contacted the Beinn an Tuirc distillery team and they kindly sent me some to try. As always, I’ll let you know what I really think.

I think I speak for all of us when I say “what the hell does Beinn an Tuirc mean?” Well it’s the highest point in Kintyre that the Beinn an Tuirc distillery team sources their water from; it translates from gaelic as “the hill of the wild boar”. Kintyre gin features a (presumably) wild boar on top of a hill on their bottle and uses 12 botanicals – all of which are sustainably sourced. They combine macerating botanicals with vapor infusion and mix common botanicals orris root, lemon peel, liquorice, juniper and cubeb amongst others, with more unique ingredients Icelandic moss (which, confusingly, grows in Scotland and isn’t actually moss) and sheep sorrel (not made of sheep, adds a hint of floral notes). They power their 230 litre still with their own hydro-electric scheme and each batch is named, rather than numbers, using the Gaelic alphabet. They recommend serving this with Mediterranean Fever Tree and garnished with basil, or light tonic with mint.

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Gin Bothy Gunshot infused gin

Note: I contacted the Gin Bothy team about International Scottish Gin Day and they kindly sent me a sample to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I really think.

You might have seen my post about the original Gin Bothy, but today we try their Gunshot infused gin. This is proper small batch gin, they make just 38 bottles of this at a time which is distilled and infused for up to four months. They call this the “gin for whisky lovers”. Which is interesting for a country so steeped in whisky history – although the advantage being that this is rested for four months, not a minimum of three years. It opens an interesting debate around interchangeable spirits, but this is a debate that this blog doesn’t have the space for right now (or, frankly, the brain capacity or knowledge). The ‘gunshot’ they infuse their gin with is actually cinnamon, cloves and mixed spices (and it is worth noting this is bottled at 37.5% rather than the 41% of their original gin), they recommend filling your hip flask with this for a day’s hiking, or mixing it with ginger ale. I’m all about mixing gin with ginger, but how does it taste with classic tonic?

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Gin Bothy Original Gin

Note: I contacted the Gin Bothy team and they sent me a sample to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I really think.

What’s a bothy you ask? The Cambridge Dictionary says “(in Scotland) a small, simple building on a hill for walkers to shelter in, or one that is used on a farm for workers to live in”. The Gin Bothy team reflect on this history and heritage and pledged to keep this at the core of their work. They use traditional methods to make their gin, using local produce such as pine needles and heather – they also have a range of fruit gins that use Scottish berries and rhubarb as botanicals. The respect for the land around them doesn’t end there, £1 from every bottle sold is donated to the Woodland Trust to regenerate the local forests that supply them with their botanicals. Starting life by infusing gin with leftover fruit jams, their range is extensive but today we try their original gin. Here is where they use their pine needles and heather alongside milk thistle, hawthorn root and rosemary which they say invokes the memory of Scottish forests. So, how does it taste?

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HYKE gin

Note: I contacted Foxhole spirits when I heard about Hyke gin and they kindly sent me a bottle to try, but as always I will let you know what I really think.

As an avid reader, I know you’ll remember my review of Foxhole gin, and Foxhole spirits have gone on to create HYKE gin. Similar to Foxhole, they use surplus grapes to create their base spirit – did you know that around 713 tonnes of grapes are not suitable for consumption so would go to waste? Once the base spirit has been made, they distil this with botanicals inspired by their grapes’ African and South American roots – juniper, coriander, aniseed, rooibos, myrrh, bay leaf and lemon zest. All in all, a slightly random mix of botanicals, but they say this creates a gin that leads with sweet citrus before spice and ‘complex aromatics’ kick in. The gin, with its beautiful labels, will be exclusively available in Tesco as part of their commitment to cut food waste by one-fifth within a decade.

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Brighton Gin Seaside Strength

Note: I contacted the Brighton Gin team who kindly sent me sample of their new Seaside Strength gin to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I really think.

If you cast your mind back to 15 December 2014, you might remember I published my first ever blog post. Oh how the four years have flown. The first post was written by an inexperienced but enthusiastic gin drinker trying the new Brighton Gin which I had very excitedly reserved at a shop wayyyyyy out of my way and collected exhausted after a holiday to Stockholm. In the time it has taken for me to sort of learn what I’m doing, the Brighton Gin team have been going from strength to strength and have just added a new edition to their family – the 57% Seaside Strength gin. Made in Brighton Gin tradition, each small batch bottle is filled, waxed and labelled by hand but this gin hits you with citrus in the nose using candied orange, juniper and “notes of spice” but they don’t say what. What they do say is that this gin is smooth and perfect for drinking neat, or with tonic and lime. So, how does it taste?

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Pothecary Trinity Blend

I’m a fan of Pothecary gin, so when they announced their new Trinity Blend, I was excited to give it a try (thank you to Martin for kindly sending me a bottle). I’ve written about their British blended gin here, and tried their Thai blend (which is delicious) at Junipalooza. So, what makes the Trinity blend different? This gin was created as a rebellion; a rebellion against all that is wrong with gin, the pink gins, the glittery gins, the liqueurs masquerading as gins, the list goes on. Instead, they use just three botanicals: juniper, coriander, and bergamot. I am a BIG fan of bergamot, if you are too I’d recommend trying Italicus which is delicious with prosecco. I digress. So, a brand I like and three flavours I love – plus a hike up to 49% ABV AND it’s still organic. So, how does it taste?

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Hortus Gin

If you have a TV, you’ll have seen Lidl’s adverts doing the whole “You can buy X from Tesco for £Y, or you can come to Lidl and buy A, B, C, D and E for less than £Y”. One of those adverts features their own brand gin, Hortus. Developed with Kevin Love, a Michelin-starred chef (and prodige of Heston Blumenthal), Hortus ranked higher than big brands Gordon’s and Thomas Dakin in a blind taste test run by Good Housekeeping Institute (coming 7th overall) and winning a silver medal at the ISC 2016. They use botanicals such as lavender, lemon verbena, rosemary and cubeb in their London Dry gin, as well as producing some limited edition seasonal variations. For most people, craft gin comes at a price too high to drink all the time, so if this really tastes as good as some craft gins but for a fraction of the cost, this could be why it is proving so popular with gin drinkers.

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One ‘Sage and Apple’ Gin

It’s my favourite time of the month again – it’s a Craft Gin Club delivery! This month we received a special edition of One Gin which features the sage we know and love from their original gin, but with the addition of russet apples, along with a host of goodies including Lixir tonics, Gusto ginger and chipotle, cucumber Dash water, lemon and juniper Divine chocolate, and a bag of Chika’s chilli and lime nuts. If we were playing Only Connect and these were the clues, the connecting factor would be “ethical and organic brands” (ok, Victoria Coren Mitchell would phrase it better). One gin works with charity partner The One Foundation who pledged to raise £20 million for clean water projects by 2020 – to date they have already raised a staggering £19.3 million. A bottle of One gin gives 10% of its profits to the charity which currently works in Kenya, Malawi, Ghana and Rwanda and features botanicals such as juniper (obviously), cassia bark, nutmeg, lemon peel, and sweet and bitter orange peels alongside the fresh sage and russet apples that give this gin its name. Bottled at 43%, it has a kick to it and they say it tastes fresh and crisp.

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Gutsy Monkey Winter Gin

Heads up, this is another bottle that I adore. A ceramic bottle is massively underused (admittedly, it’s a cost thing) but Gutsy Monkey keep it simple and allow the bottle to draw you in. The team at Gin Kitchen have four spirits in their range: the Blushing Monkey uses black grapes to add a hint of pink to the gin; the Eternal Absinthe uses rose petals; and the Dancing Dragontail mixes aromatic green cardamom with pink grapefruit. Today however we are drinking their Winter Gin which mixes juniper with fresh lime zest, ginger and thyme, before adding some warmth from allspice, black pepper and cumin. Coming in at 48% ABV, I’m imaging this packs quite the punch.

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