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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Doctor Polidori Tonic

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?

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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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Hayman’s Gin

You can’t talk about English gins without mentioning Hayman’s Gin. The Hayman family have been involved in the gin industry since the original gin boom 150 years ago, opening doors in 1863. Since then, their range of ‘True English’ gins have been distilled and made just as they would have been back then. Running three stills at a time (Marjorie the grandmother of the current Hayman’s, Karin the mother and Miranda the current fifth generation distiller who FYI is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet) they blend ten botanicals including cinnamon, nutmeg and liquorice together to make their London Dry gin. But it doesn’t stop there – they also have an Old Tom gin, a sloe gin, a navy strength edition and a gently rested gin – not aged, just rested. They have recently moved to Balham to a BEAUTIFUL new distillery which is open for tours which I highly recommend as it is so lovely I want to move in – and not just because when I went they said the words “help yourself to whatever you want”. They also have branded lemon peel.

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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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Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz gin

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

Sekforde mixers

Note: I contacted Sekforde and they kindly sent me some samples to try, but as always I’ll let you know exactly what I think.

Sekforde mixers were created by husband and wife team Tom and Talula and they take a different approach to most ranges of mixers. Most ranges go for different flavours which complement different drinks in different ways, but here they have created three botanical mixers, each designed to complement a different spirit. Each mixer is 100% natural and under 40 calories per 200ml bottle. So what are they?

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