After last month’s special box, this month I received my regular Craft Gin Club delivery. The boxes have come a long way since I first joined, and this month we received a bottle of Wardington’s Original Ludlow gin which has been exclusively distilled for members, along with three bottles of Buzbee’s tonic, a spiced tomato mix, stroopwaffles, cocktail syrup, fruit juice, dried garnishes, crisps and chocolates. As the name suggests, this gin originates from the historic town of Ludlow (Welsh borders) from distiller Shaun Ward, who sports a bold moustache. An organ player by training, he launched Ludlow gin in 2018 as a juniper forward, classic gin and since then have launched three more gins, a coffee liqueur and a triplecello – like limoncello but with lemon, orange and pink grapefruit. This box contains their fifth gin, a limited release paying homage to the Welsh countryside in the springtime. Taking inspiration from traditional elderflower cordial, Shaun experimented with distilling elderflower and chamomile but knew his recipe wasn’t quite right. When visiting a country show at Malvern, he overheard some producers talking about the virtues of lemon verbena; after a chat and a taste, he knew he had stumbled upon his missing ingredient. So, how does it taste?
As you’ll probably know if you read my blog, I am a long time member of Craft Gin Club. My next delivery is due in March, but when I saw the announcement that February’s box is an exclusive release from Gŵyr, I had to get myself a box. The newest member of the family is a Valentine’s special featuring their distinct foraged wild fennel alongside pomegranate seeds, red rose petals and fresh pink grapefruit zest. The label may be pink, but the gin isn’t. Rhamanta has two meanings: the first is an old Welsh tradition of divining your romantic future, and the second is the translation “be romantic”. Because what says romance more than shovelling grains of wheat over a fire to see when they pop and then commanding someone to be romantic? Siân and Andrew liked the idea of “romance” counting as the act of sharing your gin with your partner, friends and family – sharing gin love is the best type of romance. Made in their distillery at the bottom of their garden, surrounded by their family (who are the team), over looking the sea, this gin also helps celebrate the couple’s 30th anniversary. Let’s raise a glass to Brooks’ and see how it tastes.
December is a tricky time – well, by tricky I mean I get my Craft Gin Club delivery and because it’s Ginvent I don’t get to open my delivery until later in the month. This month we got a bumper box: four cans of Merchant’s Heart tonic, festive nuts, Pedrino sherry and tonic spritz, a bottle of cava, biscuits, winter tea, and the main event – Copperfield A Christmas Carol gin. Distilled in the Surrey hills, husband and wife team Chris and Katherine (who between them have a degree in biochemistry and chemical engineering, and a PhD in brewing and distilling) were left home alone after their children grew up and decided it was time to set up their distillery. Inspired by the classic books collected by Katherine, and named after a legendary policeman in their village, the Surrey Copper Distillery was born. Going full steam ahead, they designed a spirit lab and distillery, ordered two 2 litre and one 20 litre copper pot stills for their gin, plus a second 20 litre still for their vermouth. All are named after literary characters – Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, Alice, and Wendy (Darling), and their branding is an homage to illustrations on antique book covers. Their original London dry gin uses – you guessed it – a historical recipe found in a library archive of pink peppercorns, cubeb berries, rose petals, hibiscus and elderflower. This time we are trying their Christmas gin exclusive to Craft Gin Club members which focuses on cloves, cinnamon, star anise, orange, rosemary and sage. So, how does it taste?
It’s September which means it is Craft Gin Club delivery time again! This month’s gin comes from Wessex Gin (along with a host of goodies including my fave cardamom tonic from Peter Spanton). Gin distilling is not a new venture for the founder of Wessex Gin, Jonathan Clark. Jonathan was the founder of the City of London Distillery (about 5 mins from my office, see my thoughts on the Six Bells gin and Square Mile gin) and when retirement didn’t suit him, he and his family decided to start all over again. The City of London Distillery is so ingrained in London, and when Jonathan and wife Gill moved to Wessex, they wanted that same connection to their surroundings. Having grown up in the countryside of Hampshire, we visited many a Roman/Saxon/Tudor sites thanks to school trips, and it’s this Anglo-Saxon time that inspired this gin. Specifically, the stories of King Alfred the Great, the man that scared off the Vikings (which was no mean feat). This era embraced the magic and the mystic, herbs were used for their healing properties and this has never really faded in the gin industry with a strong focus on the roots of their botanicals. The Anglo-Saxons were big on herbariums – a book listing herbs and their properties – and it is this that the Clark’s used to source their botanicals. Keen to make a classic London Dry gin which is heavy on the juniper, Jonathan also favours citrus led gins, with a hint of coriander and medicinal chervil, nowadays bringing an aniseed quality but also reportedly soothing stomach ailments – did you know King Alfred suffered from stomach problems with people thinking it was akin to Crohn’s Disease. So, how does it taste?
Welcome to June and that means only one thing: Junipalooza time! Kidding (well, I’m not) but it is also time for a Craft Gin Club delivery. This box was literally larger than normal, but on opening it turns out we have a very fancy bottle inside that needs protecting – welcome to the world Nelson’s Gluggle Jug gin (try saying that five times). I’ve never tried Nelson’s gin before but I’ve long admired their bottles, and this is no exception. The bottle was made exclusively for this gin by Wade Ceramics who have been making ceramics since 1810. Inspired by the classic gluggle jug – so called for the sound it makes when you pour water from it – which is a Staffordshire icon, Nelson’s wanted to make a gin that would withstand the long summer evenings. Founder Neil experimented with various botanicals before settling on his recipe, then called in team Craft Gin Club to help him pick the best iteration. Botanicals that made the final cut include green cardamom, sweet orange, grapefruit, lemon, hibiscus, lime, pink peppercorn and star anise; lots of citrus up front complemented by the richer cardamom and spices. So, how does it taste?
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.
As per the last two years, I’ve received my Craft Gin Club delivery in December. Due to the daily blogging for Ginvent, I then never get to try it until after Christmas. But here we go; this month’s delivery contains an exclusive collaboration with Tarquin’s, one of my favourite distillers. I’ve tried many over the four years I’ve been writing, too many to list here but feel free to have a search back, and never have I been disappointed. This edition is only available to Craft Gin Club members and was distilled using a whopping 18 botanicals including Tarquin’s staple violet alongside Christmassy botanicals nutmeg, star anise, ginger and allspice. There’s also plenty of citrus fruits and tonka bean to bring a mulled fruit note to balance the zest and marzipan.
Happy Craft Gin Club delivery! And a big cheers to the first in my new home (spoiler alert: buying a house is stressful and expensive). This month’s delivery is yet another exclusive gin, courtesy of the City of London Distillery (which is about 50 feet from my day job just off of Fleet Street by the terrifying junction that is Ludgate Circus.). Alongside the gin, this month we were treated to two Belvoir pressés, a packet of Bahlsen crunchy hazelnut choco moment biscuits, some salt and vinegar London Crisps and a tub of popaballs. The City of London Distillery is so called because, surprise surprise, it is in the heart of the city; they opened their doors in December 2012 and have since gone from strength to strength, winning awards aplenty and now have five gins to their name (with Six Bells becoming their sixth). The focus of this gin is citrus. The usual gin botanicals of juniper, coriander, angelica root and liquorice root are joined by lemon rind, fresh grapefruit and sweet orange to create a big zesty mouthfeel.
Today is exciting because it’s an extra Craft Gin Club day (shout out to Lizzie for sorting my delivery problems)! I’m not meant to get my next subscription box until September, but when I saw what was in the box this month, I had to get one ASAP. Dry Island Gin is the lovechild of two great distilleries, Four Pillars in Australia and Herno in Sweden, and this is their Eurpoean exclusive launch! Being mutual fans of each other’s work, they got chatting and after discovering they had a lot in common and throwing around some ideas, they decided to collaborate and work together. The first step sounded like a lot of hard work – tasting the whole Herno and Four Pillars range side by side to work out what characteristics from their current range should go into the collaboration. They decided to aim for a classic gin using Swedish meadowsweet and Australian river mint, strawberry gum and roasted wattleseed to bring together a range of flavours and textures. This is a Four Pillars gin, made in Australia using their base spirit and the pure water which is one of the aforementioned pillars, with Jon from Herno weighing in with the distillation. Removing Four Pillars’ still plates, Jon recommended they distil at a lower temperature over a longer period to for higher purity. I’ve waited long enough, so let’s crack this open.
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.