If you’re in Edinburgh, I can recommend the Pickering’s Distillery tour. Well. By tour it’s standing in one room talking all about gin, then going next door and seeing their bottling room, then back to the first room to drink gin. It’s accessed through the Royal Dick Bar (tee hee hee) at Summerhall roundabout. I went during the festival and was joined by my father, who at the end very kindly got me a bottle of the limited edition 2017 Tattoo gin. Working with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo organisers, this year’s edition features indigenous Scottish heather, milk thistle, bog myrtle and Scots Pine added to their Bombay recipe gin wrapped in the official tartan of the Tattoo (not McLaren tartan though as my father pointed out…). Along with the Tattoo gin, their range features their original gin, a navy strength gin and the 1947 recipe (made precisely to their original recipe). They’re also the makers of the original gin baubles that are LITERALLY ALL OVER SOCIAL MEDIA. The bottle is lovely, they have paid real attention to the small details – the Pickering’s peacock wrapped around the bottle and a charming scale of how empty the bottle is on the side.
Note: I contacted Tyree Gin to see if they would send me a sample for the blog and they were kind enough to do so – as always, I’ll be honest about what I think
Tyree Gin hails from the Hebridean island of Tiree (go to Oban and go west past Mull and you reach it). Tiree is only 12 miles long but three miles wide, and very flat. They do however seem to have lots of local botanicals on this small, windy patch of land in the sea. The soil on Tiree is what is known as machair – a combination of soil and sand, unique to Scotland. From here they gather eyebright (a flower that can help eye infections), Ladies Bedstraw (yellow flowers that smell slightly of honey), Water Mint (a form of mint…that grows in water…) and Angelica, combined with local kelp from the Atlantic Ocean. Their kelp forests are the fourth largest in Scotland don’tcha know. So, you’ve probably noticed that Tyree Gin is not spelt the same as their island namesake. Well, Tyree is the original spelling of Tiree’s Post Office – dating back to 1802. But it was changed in 1889 to avoid confusion with Tyrie in Aberdeenshire. So that’s that.
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?
Note: I met Tiger Gin at Imbibe Live and they were kind enough to send me a sample for the blog.
Tiger Gin is the product of JJ Lawrence (who starts emails with “Hi Tiger” FYI), a Shropshire lad with a passion for gin. He did what we all have thought about doing – wouldn’t be be awesome to make my own gin? And, well, he did it. What followed was a lengthy court battle against a global brand (Tiger beer familiar?) to be able to use the name, but finally Tiger Gin arrived. Using botanicals such as juniper (from the Balkans), coriander seeds (Eastern Europe), dried sweet lemon peel (Spain), cassia bark (China), nutmeg (West Indies), cinnamon bark (Madagascar) and two secret ingredients all blended with 100% grain spirit and pure English water, this gin is a global product.
Note: I met Bedrock Gin at Imbibe Live and they were kind enough to give me a sample for the blog.
Bedrock Gin are not a new brand, as I found out at Imbibe Live. They have been going for nine years from the Cumbrian Lake District. Founder Vince Wilkins was inspired by the beauty of the Lake District, and working with a master distiller blended his botanicals with Cumbrian kiln-dried oak bark thus making Bedrock Gin. Winning silver at the IWSC in 2012 and 2013, they won gold in 2016 – winning plenty of other awards along the way. Made with 11 botanicals including citrus peel, liquorice and cinnamon, they suggest serving Bedrock with a slice of lime and a garnish of basil.
Note: I met Clover gin at Imbibe Live and they were kind enough to give me a sample for the blog.
Clover gin hail from Belgium and have a lovely bottle. That’s kind of why I got chatting to them at Imbibe. A soft round bottle with a simple design – it’s a winner. The product of an eight month journey for three sisters, the gin features coriander, juniper and cardamom as a base, topped with pear and lavender for a perfumed finish. The secret ingredient? Clover (get it? from the name). Like the three sisters, the three leaved clover adds something unique to this gin. They suggest the perfect serve comes with fresh coriander leaves and a slice of ginger.
Note: I met One Gin at Imbibe Live and they were kind enough to give me a sample to try for my blog.
One Gin is produced by multi-award winning master distiller Sarah Thompson (a local gal from Blackdown spirits in Sussex). As a brand, they’ve been selling water and soft drinks since 2005 – if you haven’t heard of One Drinks before, they put some of their profits into helping the 663 million people around the world that don’t have access to clean drinking water. Over 2 million people die every year from a waterborne diseases and thousands more – usually women – are trapped in a cycle of needing to walk miles to the nearest clean water supply. One “Sage” Gin uses 9 botanicals which are distilled in a London Dry style, then the gin is further distilled with their signature fresh sage, foraged from the distillery’s grounds. One Gin have the aim of raising £20 million for water projects by 2020, so if you like your gin to have an ethical mission, then this is the one for you.
Note: I emailed Wicked Wolf gin and they kindly sent me a sample for the blog. As usual, you’ll know if it’s not quite the one for me.
Wicked Wolf gin hails from Exmoor; using 11 botanicals the gin is distilled on the banks of the River Lyn by husband and wife team Pat Patel and Julie Heap. Made in a copper still, the gin is blended, filtered, bottled and labelled by hand in 100 litre batches. The gin is bottled at 42% and features traditional botanicals juniper, coriander seeds and cardamom pods with the more exotic kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and hibiscus. Currently, unless you live in the Devon/Somerset area it’s a bit tricky to find in a pub or shop (although you can find it in Twenty One Wines in the Laines, Brightoners), but it is available online.
When I was at Junipalooza, I got chatting to the team at Helsinki Dry Gin and they kindly gave me some samples to bring home for the blog. The Helsinki Distilling Company come from, you guessed it, Helsinki (that’s Finland for those of you not very good at geography). The distillery, that has formally been a power plant, a meatball factory and an architect’s office amongst others, produces a whole range of products. Winning the Spirit of the Year award in 2016 AND 2017 is the Helsinki Dry Gin. Distilled with Finnish lingonberries, Balkan juniper berries, fennel and rose petals, the gin is a traditional 47% volume to achieve a smoother feel. They also make an Akvavit (a Finnish schnapps), Applejack (a 43% strength apple spirit), the pink grapefruit Long Drink, some gin liqueurs and Tyrnipontikka. I have no idea what the last one is or how to pronounce it. So we’ll move quickly on.
I went to Junipalooza last weekend on World Gin Day and I bumped into the folks from Curio gin. After gushing about their branding and having a chat, they kindly gave me a bottle to review properly on the blog. Curio Gin comes from Mullion in Cornwall – a mere 30 minutes from my Dad’s house (Happy Father’s Day Dad!) and has one of my favourite bottle labels ever. Their range includes the Rock Samphire Gin, a Cardamom Vodka, a Cocoa Nib Vodka and their Cornish Cup. Hand foraged on their local cliff tops, the rock samphire is blended and distilled in small batches.