Note: I met the Doctor Polidori team and they kindly gave me some bottles to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I REALLY think.
Doctor Polidori tonic comes from Germany from the same people that make Ferdinand’s Saar gin, and I think we’re all thinking the same thing. Who the hell is Doctor Polidori? To know this we have to open our history books to around the time of Lord Byron, Polidori’s client and travelling companion (and originator of the vampire-fiction genre). His records formed the foundation of this modern interpretation of tonic. They have two tonics in their range – the dry tonic which is infused with botanicals such as basil and thyme and a cucumber tonic which includes (funnily enough) cucumber extract which makes the tonic “a refreshing experience beyond compare”. So, how do they taste?
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!
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.
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.
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.
I have heard VERY good things about this gin. So when my housemate bought some of the 2017 vintage home, I was very excited. The Yarra Valley outside Melbourne, Australia, is home to a thriving wine growing community. Amongst the vineyards, you’ll find the Four Pillars distillery. They say that they base their craft distilling on four pillars – stills, water, botanicals and love. After years of research and testing, they released their Rare Dry Gin in December 2013, followed by a Barrel Aged Gin on World Gin day, 14 June 2014. On a roll, in 2014 they also released their 58.8% Navy Strength gin. Since then they have released their Bloody Shiraz gin, a spiced negroni gin, the modern Australian gin, a cardonnay barrel gin and a sherry cask gin. The Bloody Shiraz gin is closely tied to the wine industry around it, changing with each year’s vintage after the grapes are steeped in the gin for eight weeks. This gives it a rich red colour alongside notes of fresh pine, spice, and a touch of berry. Don’t confuse this with a sloe gin through – this still packs a punch at 37.8% ABV. Continue reading
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.
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.
Note: I contacted Ledger’s as I wanted to try their tonic and they kindly obliged with some samples, as always this won’t affect my review!
Ledger’s tonic is so named after Charles Ledger who discovered quinine in Peru back in 1862. Their range features four flavours, all of which are low in sugar and sweetened with stevia – a natural sugar substitute which means they are one of the most calorie friendly tonics on the market. Today we’re drinking their premium Indian tonic, tonic with liquorice, tonic with tangerine and finally their tonic with cinnamon.
Note: I contacted Brindle Distillery and they kindly sent me a bottle of Cuckoo gin to try. This won’t influence my tastebuds though.
Based in Lancashire, Brindle Distillery produce Cuckoo Gin – a gin with sustainable and ethically-sourced botanicals and named after a local legend. The Brindle Cuckoo hails back to the middle ages when hearing the first cuckoo’s call of spring led to celebrations that the fertility of the land would reward the farm workers. So, obviously, the locals decided to catch one to keep in the village to bring them luck all year round – except the cuckoo was smart and flew off. Now, anyone born and bred in Brindle is known as a Brindle Cuckoo. They keep this theme running with locally grown botanicals from the surrounding fields and their natural water source delivers spring water straight to the distillery. Being ecologically minded doesn’t stop there; they heat their still, Maggie, with renewable energy biomass boilers and they feed any distilling byproducts to their cattle and chickens. They say their gin is smooth with flavours starting at juniper and developing to citrus, spice and pepper. Let’s see how it fares…