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?
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.
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.
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.
An Australian distillery founded by four friends – no it’s not Four Pillars, it’s Animus Distillery. Founded in 2015 in their garage, they soon expanded into their rural property in Central Victoria (about an hour from Melbourne). Their grain spirit is triple filtered through a custom made gravity-fed carbon filter before being vapour distilled – in fact many of their botanicals are grown on their farm. They are another brand with a big focus on sustainability, they reuse their botanicals as fertiliser and use recyclable materials in their packaging. They currently have four gins in their range: Abrosian gin with a South East Asian influences of mandarin, kaffir lime, galangal and ginger; Arboretum gin which utilises estate grown herbs lemon thyme, rosemary and native bush tomato; Davidsonia gin which is their take on a British sloe gin using a tropical sour plum with is steeped in their Macedon gin for a number of months. Speaking of the Macedon gin, that’s what we are trying today which is a London dry style using lemon myrtle and mountain pepper berry alongside juniper, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and rosemary amongst many others.
987 gin is a Spanish London dry gin which goes through eight distillations. They macerate 14 botanicals including juniper, vanilla pods, thyme, bitter chamomile, lavender and mencia wine (a red grape with floral and red fruit flavours). These are combined with citrus fruits in copper pot stills with neutral grain spirit which was distilled five times, before being filtered and bottled by hand. They say the gin has heavy juniper and herbs on the nose, with the wine base bringing a combination of sweet and spice. The distillery also makes 987 Lollipop gin which uses cherries as their main flavour and their own premium red vermouth.
Today’s gin hails from Finland; the Ägräs gin distillery is in Fiskars Village, an old ironworks village 88km west of Helsinki. The distillery takes it’s name from the ancient Finnish god of vegetation, and they use just four botanicals (juniper, red clover, angelica and lemon peel) sourced from the forests of Finland. The distillery is the first crowdfunded distillery in Finland, with over 500 shareholders and now make their gin, an Akvavit, and the limited edition Abloom gin which takes their standard gin mixed with hibiscus flowers and honey.
I’ve admired the bottle of Avva gin for a while, and truth be told it’s been sat on my shelf for nearly two years thanks to my old housemate bringing me a bottle home from one of her events. Based in the old cathedral city of Elgin (up the top near Lossiemouth) the Moray Distillery uses botanicals selected from the highlands and Speyside (including red clover, dandelion and nettle) to create their small batch gin. Avva means a respected grandmother from the Indian language of Dravidian, but in Hebrew it means to overturn or ruin – combined they make a nod to the traditional mother’s ruin reputation. Their still is made in Speyside and is named Jessie Jean after the founder’s grandmothers. The love of the local area continues into their branding, the label features the ‘rose window’ which is an idea of how the cathedral’s round window would have looked when it was still standing.
Note: I contacted Fidra to ask for a sample and a chat about where my family are from in Scotland, even though they’re based near the family home, I’ll tell you exactly what I think of the gin
For those of you that know your Scottish islands, you might know of Fidra off of the coast of East Lothian. Fun fact – my Dad grew up near the border of East Lothian and we spent many a summer holiday eating ice cream on the beach in Musselburgh which is just along the coast. Emma and Jo set up Fidra Gin after their passion for gin developed and they wanted to showcase botanicals grown on the East Lothian coast. The botanicals used include sea buckthorn, elderflower, lemon thyme and rosehip, all handpicked from the local area. The proximity to the sea allows the botanicals to impart a slightly salty taste to the gin and their love for their area carries through to their branding, a beautiful tall, thin bottle with a label depicting the region. So, how does it taste?
Note: I contacted Biggar for a sample and they kindly sent me one to try, as always I’ll let you know what I think.
Biggar gin is one of the many new brands coming from Scotland, started by two brothers who focus on small scale production with big ambitions. They take their name from the town they grew up in, south of Glasgow and Edinburgh in the Southern Uplands and distil their gin at the famous Strathearn Distillery. Traditional botanicals juniper, coriander seeds, cardamom and orris root combine with rosehip, rowan berries and lavender. The idea behind the botanicals is to create a balance of flavours – sweet meets savoury, florals meet earthiness – which reflects the local landscape. So, how does it taste?