Blossom & Hops gin, I think, is the first South African gin to find a place in my collection. Hailing from the suburbs of Cape Town, creator Tim James had to put a lot of work into his gin. In South Africa, you have to have your distillery built and ready to go before you can get your distilling license, so they distil offsite at the Hope Distillery. Tim wanted to make a gin using hops flowers, an ingredient not often seen but was featured in old Genever recipes, and he and his partner Teresa worked to incorporate this into a modern London dry gin. Mostly used in beer, one of my favourite gins from England – actually not too far from me – Mayfield Sussex Hop gin also features this botanical so I am interested to see how it compares. Their hops are complemented by lime blossom, lime leaves, juniper and coriander, but they say this results in a juniper forward gin. So, let’s see how it tastes.
The Duchess is a brand of non-alcoholic gin and tonic. I know right? That makes no sense. It’s not just alcohol free – it’s also sugar free. Created for the “conscious consumer”, The Duchess blends re-distilled juniper berries with botanically infused tonic water. Basically it tastes like a gin and tonic thanks to the juniper and orange peel, all spice, cardamom and cloves. The important questions are: 1) is it any good and 2) does it taste like gin?