The Lakes Gin

Note: I emailed the Lakes Distillery asking for a sample and they kindly sent a bottle over – as always, you’ll know if I’m not impressed.

The Lakes Gin hails from – I bet you can guess – the Lake District. The distillery (which also features a Bistro and distillery tour) is nestled above Bassenthwaite Lake in a Victorian model farm. Water feeds down from Scafell Pike and they started with a blended whisky. Their range now includes a gin, a vodka and a single malt whisky. But we’re here for the gin. Made with 13 botanicals local to the Lake District, the gin features flavours including bilberry, heather and meadowsweet. They say the gin is “big, clear fresh citrus, fruity and floral” – that’s a lot of adjectives, so let’s see how it lives up.

Straight from the bottle it certainly smells big, fresh and citrusy. In the glass the juniper comes to the front and, mixed with water this is lovely. Very smooth and easy to drink, there is a slight sweetness on the front of the tongue, a herbal savoury note to the sides and a crisp finish at the back. No chemical or alcohol burn which is nice! There is a slight kick to it, but this is (I imagine) from it being distilled at 43.7% – slightly higher than the average gin.

Made into a gin and tonic (back to Fever Tree to celebrate the move into the new flat) and this is a delight. It is light and fresh, the citrus tones are at the front but are not overwhelming. It is very smooth and easy to drink, and leaves your mouth with a dryness that leaves you wanting more. This to me is a perfect gin and tonic, the classic drink. It is fresh but dry. Adding a slice of lemon brings out the citrus notes without making it too much. I am a BIG fan.

You can get a bottle of The Lakes Gin from their shop for £29.95 for a 70cl bottle, and for this price it may well be my new every day gin! Give them a follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (and a whole load more social networks but I’m old and don’t understand the others).

Let me know your thoughts on Lakes Gin over on Twitter and Instagram.

Mews Gin

Note: I contacted the team at Mews Gin to see if they wanted to send me a sample for the blog and they were kind enough to send me one. As always, you’ll know if I’m not a fan.

Mews GinMews Gin is a new artisan distillery set up in the heart of Surrey using the combined skill of founding brothers Richard and Daniel Mew. After two years of researching and experimenting with recipes and distilling, they had their final product in 2014 – just in time for a family wedding. Daniel is an engineer bringing technical skills and precision to the process and Richard brings his business experience to form their team – and a gin that combines “the vibrancy of youth with the subtlety of maturity”. Whilst I don’t fully understand that sentence, I think this is reflecting in their branding – the bottle label feels both modern and classic. But what about the gin? All of the classic botanicals are joined with pink peppercorn, lavender and cubeb berries. They vapour distil their gin – costing more in time and money – but they think this is key to making a lighter, more subtle gin.

Cracking open my little bottle it smells nice and citrusy, a smell which sticks when mixed with water in a glass. Straight up this doesn’t taste like 38%. Very smooth and very easy to drink, there’s a hint of juniper and a hint of citrus. Not really getting the peppercorn but there is a lightness that I associate with flowery gins which I presume comes from the lavender. There is no alcohol burn as it goes down – a sign of a good gin!

Mews GinMixed into a simple gin with two parts tonic (sadly still Tesco) this is different to usual. It tastes like a classic gin, but just at the back of your throat you get a sudden hit of flavour. I can’t fully describe what it is, but either way this is fresh and zingy (yes, I went for zingy). It has woken me up after my long day at work and 5k run and I imagine this little bottle won’t be lasting very long.

A bottle of the 38% gin is currently available on Master of Malt for £31.95 (although also currently sold out) and I would snap this up, pronto! This has the flavour and characteristics of a much more expensive bottle, so if you can snaffle it for under £32 then grab it while you can. You can get in touch with Mews on Twitter and Facebook.

Have you tried Mews Gin? Let me know what you think on Twitter and Instagram.

Esker Gin

Note: I emailed Esker gin asking for a sample for the blog and they were kind enough to send me some. As always, you’ll know if I don’t like it

Esker Gin
Esker Gin

Scotland might well be best known for its whisky, but the Scottish craft gin scene is booming (WSTA conveniently put together a tasting map of Scotland for anyone looking to visit some of their distilleries). Esker Spirits is one of these new distilleries set up in October 2015 and is the first in Scotland to use silver birch sap as a botanical. Esker takes it name from “a long ridge, typically having a winding course, created by a glacier” – a sight reflected in their local geography in Royal Deeside, home to Balmoral Castle nonetheless. Developed over a two year period (with lots of experimentation) Esker settled on a recipe of over a dozen botanicals – including their silver birch sap tapped from the Kincardine Castle Estate which adds a touch of sweetness to the gin.

Esker Gin
Esker Gin

I’m in love with the label of this gin – simple, clean and elegant. Designed to reflect their local area, its a modern look with a nod to tradition and heritage and including mountains, rivers, castle and juniper berries. Popping the cork, it’s a lovely smell that comes out. Reminiscent of the outdoors – not in a heavy, oaky way, but in a fresh meadow kind of way. The juniper leads the way once it is opened up in the glass. Mixed with a spash of water (tap, not fresh Scottish mountain water unfortunately) it is well balanced with flavours – a slight peppery taste at the front of the tongue and a very smooth finish. A savoury, floral note reaches the back of the nose (can floral be savoury?). Either way, it’s good.

Pouring out a proper measure and mixing it with tonic (sadly all I have in the house is Tesco), this caused me to say “ooh?” and look at the glass I had just put down. It is full of flavour without being over the top. You can certainly get hints of juniper and a certain freshness – and a sweet tinge to it which comes from the silver birch sap. I was worried it would be one of those gins where they add a wacky botanical and it ends up a bit grim, but I like this a lot.

Steve from Esker saw how much I hate orange and said that whilst garnished with orange zest is nice, he also recommends grapefruit or rosemary – but more importantly also says that they don’t enforce a certain serve and it’s up to the consumer to decide how they like it. YES! A real bugbear is a brand trying to enforce their way of serving your gin to you. So, having gone and bought a grapefruit especially for this moment, I add a small piece of zest and this highlights the citrus notes – plus the smell from it adds another dimension to the tasting experience. I also can see rosemary working well if you prefer a more savoury finish.

Esker Gin seems to be tricky to find outside of Scotland at the moment, but you can get it online from The Good Spirits Co for £36 a bottle (although out of stock at the time of writing – don’t worry, they’re in the process of moving to larger facilities to keep up with demand). I like this, I would definitely pay £36 for it. Plus the bottle will look beautiful on your shelf. You can also get in touch with Esker on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Have you tried Esker gin? Let me know your thoughts over on Twitter and Instagram.