Mackintosh Gin

Note: Jim at Mackintosh Gin kindly sent me bottle to try, as always I’ll let you know what I think.

The team at Mackintosh Gin come from Angus, the area just north of Dundee on the east coast of Scotland – affectionately known as “the birthplace of Scotland”. James and Deborah met and fell in love at a young age, after travelling aroujnd they settled in Angus and like all gin lovers, started attending gin festivals and building their gin collection. Around bottle 50, they joked that they should make their own gin – a joke that became reality two years later. They use nine botanicals in their gin – juniper, angelica, coriander and elderflower, which is picked a few minutes from their door. Each morning when they start a distillation, they go and buy fresh grapefruits from their local shop. They import their base spirit from the West Midlands, before the gin is distilled and bottled in Arbroath. Once off the still, it is combined with pure local water from Glen Isla.

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Henstone Rosé Gin

Note: The team at Henstone Distillery kindly sent me a sample to try, but as always I will let you know that I think.

You might have previously seen my ramblings about Henstone Distillery‘s classic London dry gin and their navy strength gin, and today we are trying their rosé gin. Note the accent, it isn’t rose or sugary sweet, this instead is their gin taken off the still at 65% and put into American oak casks before being bottled. The ageing process imbues a light golden colour to the gin, as well as a “subtle vanilla flavour”. The ageing also brings this down to a more drinkable 44.9% ABV – the same as their London dry gin. The rosé gin recently was a runner up (and highest scorer for England) in the cask aged gin category for the Gin Guide awards – so, how does it taste?

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Crofter’s Tears Gin

Note: The team at the Ice & Fire Distillery sent me a sample to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I think.

You might have read my review of Caithness Highland gin, and today’s gin also comes from the Ice & Fire Distillery. Crofter’s Tears uses purple heather as the signature botanical, alongside fresh orange and lime peel. The (full size) bottle reflects the contents with purple heather flowers snaking around the bottom of the bottle and on the neck stands tall a Highland stag. They suggest serving this with Mediterranean tonic and a twist of lime.

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Henstone Navy Strength gin

Note: Chris at Henstone Distillery kindly sent me a sample to try but as always, I’ll let you know my real thoughts.

For the avid readers, you might remember that I tried Henstone gin back when I first moved house, well now that time has moved on we are trying their navy strength offering. When Henstone Distillery set up shop in 2015, their goal was to make whisky. When they were collecting their still, they tasted the manufacturer’s gin and suddenly had a new goal (although, FYI, the whisky is currently in barrels and is available pre-order as it should be ready in January 2021). Their navy strength gin is bottled at 57.3% and uses juniper, coriander and citrus like their original gin along with angels wreath and cardamom plus some secret ingredients. So, how does this taste?

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Caithness Highland Gin

Note: The team at the Ice & Fire Distillery kindly sent me a sample to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I think.

When you hear Ice and Fire, I don’t blame you for thinking about that little show Game of Thrones. But in this case, I’m referring to the Ice & Fire Distillery, a family of Crofters from the Scottish Highlands. Making the most of the beautiful land, they use local water and use purple heather as their signature ingredient in the Crofters Tears gin (review to come). The heather carries through to their branding, their bottles are surrounded by heather and embossed with a highland stag. The Caithness Highland gin that we try today uses rhubarb – a staple in a traditional crofting garden – along with salmonberries. No, not the fish, they are similar to raspberries and so called as traditionally they were eaten with salmon or salmon roe. They combine these with their other botanicals (lots of which are home grown) and put them in their pot stills in the shed, before hand bottling and labelling them.

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The Gael Gin

Note: I contacted the team at Gael gin and they kindly sent me a bottle to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I think.

The Gael is an internationally acclaimed Scottish fiddle song that was originally composed for the Loch Ness visitor centre by Dougie MacLean, and since featured in the movie “The Last of the Mohicans”. When his son Jamie and his partner Tanya got together with gin lovers Nigel and Beverley, they wanted to find a way to combine their passions for gin and music. The Gael Gin team differ from the majority of gins as they distil their own base spirit (which in itself is fairly rare) with malted barley which gives the gin a deep, rich base note. Wanting to keep the Scottish connection strong, they use Scottish heather as one of their botanicals alongside juniper, lemon and orange peel, cardamom and coriander. Looking through the bottle shows you the sheet music for The Gael, and the yellow hue is instantly noticeable. So, how does it taste?

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Kirkjuvagr Aurora Gin

Note: The team at Orkney Distilling kindly sent me a bottle of Aurora gin to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I think.

Back in May 2017, I tried Kirkjuvagr gin (pronounced kirk-u-vaar) and since then, the Orkney Distilling team have grown their range with a navy strength gin and two seasonal editions. Today we are trying their winter Aurora gin. Named after the Aurora Borialis, a phenomenon that appears in the sky over Orkney as winter draws in, this gin is inspired by cosying up by the fire – cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves bring a warmth alongside pink and black peppercorns. They recommend pairing this with ginger ale to amp up the spice. So, how does it taste?

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Kintyre Gin

Note: I contacted the Beinn an Tuirc distillery team and they kindly sent me some to try. As always, I’ll let you know what I really think.

I think I speak for all of us when I say “what the hell does Beinn an Tuirc mean?” Well it’s the highest point in Kintyre that the Beinn an Tuirc distillery team sources their water from; it translates from gaelic as “the hill of the wild boar”. Kintyre gin features a (presumably) wild boar on top of a hill on their bottle and uses 12 botanicals – all of which are sustainably sourced. They combine macerating botanicals with vapor infusion and mix common botanicals orris root, lemon peel, liquorice, juniper and cubeb amongst others, with more unique ingredients Icelandic moss (which, confusingly, grows in Scotland and isn’t actually moss) and sheep sorrel (not made of sheep, adds a hint of floral notes). They power their 230 litre still with their own hydro-electric scheme and each batch is named, rather than numbers, using the Gaelic alphabet. They recommend serving this with Mediterranean Fever Tree and garnished with basil, or light tonic with mint.

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Pothecary Trinity Blend

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?

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Hortus Gin

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.

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