Hayman’s Sloe Gin

Note: I love the Hayman’s team and they kindly sent me some samples, but as always, I’ll let you know what I think.

You’ve hopefully already read my thoughts on the Hayman’s London Dry and Old Tom gins, and today we are trying their sloe gin. A lot of sloe gins can be too sickly sweet which I find a bit cloying, so it will be interesting to see how this fares. To make their gin they steep wild harvested sloe berries in their London Dry gin for three to four months using, as always, a traditional family recipe. Sloe gin is generally seen as a winter drink, but they suggest pairing it with some sparkling wine for a different take on a kir royale style cocktail.

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Symphonia No.1 Gin

Note: I met the Symphonia team at Junipalooza and they sent me home with some samples to try properly. As usual, I’ll let you know what I think.

Symphonia gin is a fairly nerdy brand. Founded by Ric Dyer (who has a PhD in organic chemistry) in 2016, he decided to use his skills and experience to create innovative spirits with a focus on local flavours and ingredients. In the heart of rural Ireland, Symphonia is distilled using a knowledge of flavour molecules to create their balanced compositions. This ‘composition’ carries through to their branding with the musical notation on the label – which FYI is the notation of the makeup of the gin. Symphonia No.1 is a mix of citrus, local herbs and flowers and ending with spice.

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Horse Guards Gin

Note: I contacted the Horse Guards gin team and they kindly sent me a sample to try, but as always, I’ll let you know what I really think.

Horse Guards gin is inspired by the Horse Guards, a group set up by King Charles II in 1661 to provide him with a higher level of protection. During the span of the Horse Guards time, it’s produced a number of pioneers (aka Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby who was the first person to make a hot air balloon trip from England to France and Christina Broom who became the first female press photographer in the UK) whose sense of adventure inspired the team behind the gin. They lead with juniper and balance it with citrus (orange and grapefruit) and a hint of spice from some cardamom.

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Cushiedoos Tonic

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

Cushiedoos is a new brand of tonic water from Edinburgh, but there’s something about it that makes it very different to everything else. This tonic water has no quinine in it. Which made me think, does it actually count as tonic water? They say it does so until I’m told otherwise, we’ll go with yes. Cushiedoos start with Scottish mountain water from the Cairngorns National Park which is then blended with Scottish heather and silver birch, plus some gentian and wormwood for bitterness (replacing the quinine) and British sugar beet to balance this with a touch of sweetness. They have an eye out for the environment, ensuring that all of their ingredients are close to home – plus as it is all natural and contains no added sugar, there is around 24% less sugar than other premium tonic waters. Cushiedoos is a Scottish word for a wood pigeon, who apparently partner up for life, like gin and tonic… Also fun fact for you: the samples arrived just as I was leaving to go on holiday to Edinburgh, and I spent the beginning of my gin tasting talking about the brand which they then bought out for us to try. Small world. Anyway, on with the tasting!

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Hayman’s Old Tom gin

Note: I love the Hayman’s team. After visiting their distillery and trying all their gin, they kindly sent me some samples. 

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have read my blog post about Hayman’s London Dry gin. Well, guess what? I have more gin! Today I am trying their Old Tom gin which, as a style, is one of my favourites. You may or may not know but a Tom Collins is one of my favourite drinks. The Hayman’s version of Old Tom gin is heavy on the citrus and juniper to create a rich mouthfeel, which then has an undercurrent of sweetness that lets you know you are drinking an Old Tom rather than London Dry.

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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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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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