Pothecary Gin

Note: I met Lukasz from Pothecary gin at Junipalooza and he kindly sent me a bottle to try – as always, you’ll know if I don’t like it.

Pothecary gin was created because two friends share a passion for artisan – and organic – produce. This isn’t a London Dry style gin, they label theirs as “British blended” because they do things a bit differently over at Pothecary HQ. They distil each botanical separately and then blend these together before adding the water to lower the ABV. I’m not sure I’ve come across another gin that uses this method – gins that add flavours after the distillation certainly, but distilling each botanical on it’s own? Let me know if that is less unique than I think. Alongside the usual suspects of lemon peel (organic) and juniper (foraged) they use only three more botanicals – organic lavender and wild foraged tilia flowers and black mulberries (also organic). So how does this taste?

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Twelve Keys gin

Note: I met the Twelve Keys team on their launch day at Junipalooza and they kindly gave me their final bottle to put on the blog, but as always, I’ll let you know what I think.

Twelve Keys gin is new. Brand new. I mean they literally launched at Junipalooza on 9 June. They also have a beautiful man in their advertising. But that’s irrelevant (it’s not). Inspired by Basil Valentine – a 15th century alchemist – the twelve botanicals vary from honey (from their own wildflower meadow) to fig, quince, basil and apricot. The fruits are balanced with caraway, frankincense and cinnamon to create a rounder flavour. When I tried this at Junipalooza, they garnished this with a coffee bean and a small piece of fig, and the coffee bean added a depth to the flavour – and I don’t even like coffee!

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Gŵyr gin

Note: I met the lovely team behind Gŵyr gin at Junipalooza and they kindly sent me a bottle to try, as always I’ll let you know what I think.

Gŵyr gin (pronounced Gower for us non-Welsh language speakers) hails from South Wales. They keep the recipe fairly simple and use only eight botanicals – juniper meets lemon and pink grapefruit balanced with bronze and green fennel. They aim to “capture the freshness of the sea” – a theme which carries through to their branding and distinctive navy-inspired label. As they are based just outside of Swansea, the hints of copper on the label hark back to the 18th and 19th century when Swansea was famous for its copper industry.

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Fatty’s Organic Gin

Note: I contacted Fatty’s Organic gin and they kindly sent me a sample to try, but as always, you’ll know if I don’t like it.

You certainly can’t miss Fatty’s Organic gin on a shelf – the bright green bottle makes sure of that. At the heart of the brand is the need to be organic. Not just slightly organic but 100% organic. In all my drinking time, I’ve only come across one other gin that claims to be 100% organic (although please do correct me if I’m wrong) and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the next shift for craft gins. Unable to find many options, Fatty (as she is affectionately known) started experimenting in her garden shed. Living in Dulwich, dill became her primary flavour – did you know that Dulwich historically means “the meadow where dill grows”? No, me either. Fatty has worked alongside The Soil Association to ensure everything is done properly, and has been accredited by them.

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Ashmolean Gin

Note: From a previous career, I know one of the co-founders of TOAD gin and when I met them at Junipalooza they kindly gave me a sample to try. As always, I will let you know what I think.

Ashmolean Gin is the product of the collaboration of The Oxford Artisan Distillery and the Ashmolean Museum of art and archaeology. Different to the TOAD gin you might recognise, this gin is inspired by the museum’s collections from around the world and features 17 botanicals including jara lemon, rose, jasmine and spices from the Middle East and Asia. This is complemented by the label illustration taken from Spray of ‘Morning Glory’ by Takeuchi Seiho, a piece you can see if you visit their Eastern Art collection. TOAD are the first distillery to open in Oxford and have an ethos around distilling spirits from grain to glass using heritage grains from a 50 mile radius of their site – all sustainably grown and managed.

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Vidda Torr Gin

It’s one of my favourite times of the year – Craft Gin Club delivery time! This month’s delivery contains a gin I’ve never even heard of before so this is very exciting alongside a host of goodies including Franklin & Sons tonic, Purdey’s rejuvenate drink, Arden’s Lockerbie cheddar and onion chutney biscuits, bottlegreen rhubarb cordial and gin and tonic chocolate from Coco Chocolatier. So what’s the gin? Vidda Tørr hails from Norway, a country with notoriously strict distilling laws in the past. Luckily restrictions were loosened in 1996 and founder Marius  spent several years helping big brands import into Norway before deciding to open his own distillery in Oslo. Vidda is a celebration of Norway’s diverse flora – deciding to only use botanicals which are native to the land around them. Luckily, this includes juniper, but it made it tricky for the founding team as they couldn’t use staples such as coriander seed, lemon or orange. Instead they experimented and included bilberries, heather, chamomile flowers, elderflower and meadowsweet, which apparently combine to balance floral notes with fresh pine.

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Dam Raider Gin

Note: I contacted Lincoln Imp Drinks Co and they kindly sent me a bottle of their Dam Raider gin to try, as always I will let you know what I really think.

Dam Raider gin has an awesome bottle. At first glance, it just has a picture of a Lancaster bomber on the front. Hold it up and, thanks to 3D technology, you can see it flying over Scampton. The back label shows authentic extracts of a log book from a ‘Dambusters’ crew member. Lincoln Imp Drinks company created the gin to commemorate the Dambusters raid in World War II, and from every bottle of Dam Raider gin sold, a donation is made to the Thorpe Camp Visitor Centre – home of the squadrons that flew out of RAF Woodhall Spa in the 1940s. The gin itself has been made with juniper as the prominent note, along with five other botanical which feature citrus and warming spices. They say this blend leads to a “smooth, long palate” – so let’s see how it tastes.

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Arcturus Gin

Note: I contacted Arcturus gin and they kindly sent me a bottle to try. As always, you’ll know if I don’t like it!

Arcturus gin is one of those bottles that you see and go “man, that’s a damn fine label”. I don’t like judging a book but its cover, but I do it all the time. If the label is anything to go by, the gin should be pretty good. Named after one of the brightest stars that can be seen from Earth, this Scottish gin is made using local highland botanicals that have been foraged and blended with water from Loch Torridon. The botanicals include Scots Lovage (similar to parsley), blaeberries (abundant in the Highlands) and kelp seaweed from the coast. Based in The Torridon Resort, a 58 acre hotel set in the heart of the highlands, this gin is as crisp and clear as the loch water and bottled at Dunnet Bay Distillery – best known for their Rock Rose gin.

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Archangel Gin

Note: I contacted Archangel and they kindly sent me a sample to try, as always I’m still going to be honest about the taste

Archangel gin hails from Norfolk and has just celebrated its first birthday, being first batched up on 2 February 2017. They distil their gin on a working farm just a hundred yards from St. Peter’s church which dates back to the 14th century. The farm has been in the Archangel family for the last 60 years and they are Norfolk born and bred and believing in small scale productions using local labour and locally sourced ingredients. The juniper and sea buckthorn are grown on site and are with blended 11 other botanicals including verbena and orange peel.

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British Polo Gin

Note: I contacted British Polo gin and they kindly send me some samples, and a copy of the British Polo magazine, to try. As always, this won’t stop me being honest about what I taste!

British Polo gin is apparently the polo players’ choice of gin…and so therefore I’m going to give it a go. To be fair, I grew up in the countryside and we had a horse growing up, so I’m basically qualified to make this judgement. Founded by polo player Richard Hine, British Polo gin is 100% organic using 100% organic botanicals and base spirit (distilled from sugar beet which also makes it gluten free) which is then quadruple distilled for smoothness before being diluted with natural spring water from the land around their distillery. They make their gin in batches of just 150 bottles which contain 14 botanicals ranging from elderflower to vanilla and cinnamon. They have also launched a sloe gin distilled with British berries with additions of winter spices cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves which already has me dreaming of cosy jumpers and roaring fires.

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