In case you didn’t know this about me, I live in Brighton. Well, Hove actually. Regency Tonic come from three roads away from me (and after chatting to co-founder Rich, it turns out he used to live just three doors away from me, small world). Regency’s aim was to create a tonic low in sugar so that you can #tasteyourgin – their original gold tonic contains just 1.3g per 100ml which is less than the Fever Tree Naturally Light tonic. Rich admits himself that this is quite divisive for consumers – the dryness of the tonic doesn’t compliment every single gin and needs to be paired with a slightly sweeter one to balance it out. So, to widen their reach they have just launched their new blue tonic. This has a higher sugar content to make it taste more like a traditional tonic and hopefully to appeal to a wider market. Continue reading
If you follow my Instagram stories you’ll know that a little while ago I went to a gin and cheese night hosted by Brighton Gin Club at La Cave a Fromage. When I was there I got chatting to the team and mentioned that they were combining my two loves – gin and organising events (#eventsprof). They then told me about one of their upcoming events, a night of dutch genever and gin. They kindly invited me along, so I jumped at the chance (and dragged the boy along with me).
Note: I met Isle of Wight Distillery at both Junipalooza and Imbibe Live and they kindly sent me a sample pack to try. As always, I’ll let you know if I don’t like it.
Guess where the Isle of Wight Distillery come from? Based at Rosemary Vineyard, they are the first and only distillery (with a license!) on the Isle of Wight. They started with their Mermaid Gin followed by their Rock Sea Vodka and their HMS Victory Navy Strength Gin. They also have an Apple Pie Moonshine which sounds INCREDIBLE, but I don’t have a sample of that to try so whatevs I don’t care. They use locally foraged, hand picked ingredients in their gin such as Rock Samphire (from a secret location, they won’t tell you where they get it from), along with Isle of Wight grown hops and coriander seeds plus a touch of elderflower and grains of paradise. The Navy Strength gin is made in partnership with The National Museum of the Royal Navy using the same recipe but bottled at the higher 57% ABV to make the flavours more intense. Plus, for the first time on this blog, they have a vodka – grain distilled with the addition of rock sea salt and bottled at 40% ABV.
For those that missed it, I conducted a blind taste test of Fever Tree, Fentimans and Franklin and Sons tonic waters (in the name of science of course). After checking out the three market leaders, today I’m focusing on what I’m calling “the tonic ranges”. So called because they each have a wide range of flavoured mixers to their name, today I’m still only trying their original tonic’s (there will be later blogs about the whole range). So, what are we trying?
Note: I met the team behind Caspyn Gin at Imbibe Live and they kindly sent me some samples post-event. As always, I’ll let you know if they’re grim.
Caspyn Gin is the product of Pocketful of Stones distillery, yet another craft gin from Cornwall – this time in Long Rock, just outside Penzance. They currently produce two gins – the Cornish Dry and Midsummer Dry – as well as the Cornish Summer Cup. The original Caspyn gin is loaded with floral and citrus notes using the less regularly used botanicals hibiscus flowers, Japanese tea, gorse and lemongrass. The Midsummer version takes the original gin and infuses it with fresh English cucumbers. This leaves the gin with a slight green tinge (apparently, I can’t quite spot it). The Cornish Summer Cup is their take on the English cup (aka a Pimms to us plebs) loaded with fruit such as raspberries and strawberries mixed with star anise and wild carrot seeds. So all in all, for a small batch distillery, they’ve got a lot going on – there’s an Absinthe in the pipelines. And, more importantly, my bottles arrived with my name on them. So they’re the best.
Mayfield Gin is the brain child of James Rachham – who also founded the artisanal spirits company Emporia Brands. Growing their hops in just one acre of a 30 acre farm in Salehurst (for anyone else whose geography is a bit iffy, go north from Hastings but not as far as Tunbridge Wells) which gives a citrus edge to the hoppy gin. The Sussex Hops are distilled with juniper, orange and lemon peel, angelica root, coriander seed, liquorice and orris root. I have high hopes for this – nothing gimmicky or random has been thrown in.
Hello! With the explosion of the gin market, people soon realised that Britvic is gross. While Schweppes is fine, it doesn’t have the nuances to pick out the flavours that make gins unique and enhance it. So luckily, lots of people have really upped their game. I’m taste testing nine tonics to see which is best. Well, that’s a very bold statement. Obviously tonics are catered for different flavours so really I’m going to drink a lot of gin and tonic in the name of research to see which tonic makes which flavours stand out. The gin I am using as my test gin is 6 O’Clock Gin. I chose this because it’s quite a simple gin but has citrus and floral notes to it so we can see if the tonic’s enhance or drown these. This gin is around the £25 mark so is reasonably priced, meaning you can afford a fancier tonic! Now, a good tonic should work with any gin, so I’ve deliberately picked a middle of the road gin to see how they fare.
Now, you probably know about Brighton Gin, but have you heard about Old Hove Gin? Well thanks to the Old Albion pub in Hove, we have a new contender for our favourite seaside gin. Working with Sussex based Blackdown Distillery, they make it with local silver birch syrup (because that’s a thing) and serve it exclusively at the Old Albion pub. The gin uses a wheat grain as a base spirit and is blended with Sussex spring water from below the distillery before being charcoal filtered – plus it’s gluten free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. So basically it’s a super food.
At Imbibe Live I visited the London Distillery Company stand and they invited me to visit them. I had a day off work so thought why not? I met Toby on arrival in one of the many arches less than a mile from London Bridge station and discovered that he’s my kind of man – in that I walk in and he instantly offered me gin. So I started drinking and he started telling me about their gins. When founder Darren Rook had a slightly drunken discussion with former microbrewery owner Nick Taylor, they decided to make a whisky in London. Then, because whisky needs three years to age in barrels, whilst they were waiting for that to mature they thought, hey, let’s make some gin! And so Dodds was born.