Social Gin

September Craft Gin ClubIt’s September! For some people that means back to school time, or holiday time (which is actually also me), but it mostly means it is Craft Gin Club delivery time! This month’s gin is a lockdown project from Viki Baird and Pat O’Brien in Dublin. The roots of Social gin started long ago when Pat first tried to set up a distillery in Dublin, but sadly weren’t able to secure the necessary funds to get the project up and running. Pat never gave up on the idea, and when they found their plot in Dublin 8, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with it.

Social Gin

From day one, Pat and Viki had three goals for their brand: one, to be modern and use cutting edge technology; two, to be as sustainable as possible; and three, to do good for their local community. From this, Stillgarden Distillery was born. In front of their distillery, they worked hard to build a community garden – what is now known as the Social Botanist Project. They grow a number of their own botanicals and encourage the local community to get involved with their garden as well as teaching them to cultivate their gardens at home. The botanicals in this gin include lavender, mint, rowan berry and rosehip alongside classics juniper, lime peel, lemon zest and cubeb.

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Astraea Meadow gin

Craft Gin Club boxI’ve been very quiet recently on the blog, mostly because I got myself a new job which keeps me very busy during the week and I’m trying to have a real social life so not had time to sit down and do any proper gin tasting for a while. I mean, I’ve definitely had gin, but not in a sit down in front of my computer and make notes kinda way. But that changes today because I got my quarterly Craft Gin Club subscription! This month includes a gin I’ve never heard of – Astraea gin.

Astraea Meadow ginDistilled in Seattle, Craft Gin Club is providing the platform for their UK launch. Founded by Danielle Leavell, the gin might be made in America, but is Scottish in spirit. After failing to find adequate courses that would teach her the art of distilling in America, she was accepted onto Heriot-Watt’s Brewing and Distilling Masters of Science – one of only seven women in her year of just 50 students.

During her time in Scotland, she saw the emergence of hyper-local gins that are based on foraging botanicals from their local area. She took this ethos home to Seattle and created four gins, each named after a landscape of the Pacific Northwest. This edition, the Meadow gin, is inspired by Paradise meadow at the foot of Mount Rainier – a meadow full of wildflowers. Here she decided on her botanical list including: chamomile; rosehip; lemon verbena; honeysuckle; and lemon balm.

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Shivering Mountain Early Harvest gin

Shivering Mountain ginHappy March! The evenings are getting brighter and, for me at least, it’s Craft Gin Club delivery time! This month’s box contains a special edition of Shivering Mountain gin (for a full view of box contents, check out my reel here). Hailing from the Peak District, founder Nick Malaczynski set up his distillery near Mam Tor.

Officially named for “Mother Hill”, Mam Tor is also known as Shivering Mountain due to the soft limestone deposits that wash away and move during rainy periods, giving the mountain the illusion of moving and shivering. The landscape doesn’t just inspire their name. The beautiful bottle features the landmass itself in the base, along with the textured glass refracting the light, and the base being embossed with the co-ordinates of Mam Tor’s summit.

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Kirkjuvagr Yuletide Gin

December Craft Gin Club boxIt’s the most wonderful time of the year….aka Christmas! And what does Christmas mean? It’s Craft Gin Club delivery time! This month’s bumper box contains a festive special edition of Kirkjuvagr gin. I have tried their Origin and Aurora gins in the past, and since then they’ve had a rebrand and have some rather stunning new bottles. Based on an island which is closer to the Arctic circle than it is London, their home is important to them. Not only are they inspired by their Viking ancestry, but they are also lucky enough to pick their own native angelica on the island. For this Christmas edition, they carefully selected Aronia berry (also known as the Viking berry) alongside festive spices cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Because it’s Christmas, they also add some frankincense and myrrh – although the only gold you’ll see here is on the bottle. To balance all the spices, they add rose hips and three types of rose – Burnet, Ramanas and Red roses.

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Botanic Cubical gin

Botanic ginThis bottle has been sitting on my shelf for a while as a gift from my former housemate (the one that organised gin judging awards). Hailing from one of the world’s most prestigious wineries, the Spanish Bodegas Williams & Humbert group, the gin is made in stills that are over 100 years old. The company was founded in 1877 and focused on making sherry and brandy, and in the 1960s moved towards making wine. Since then they have expanded to make a huge variety of products including gin, rum and vodka. The gin I am drinking today is made from high quality English grains, and distilled at the Langley Distillery in Birmingham to make a traditional London Dry gin. Alongside usual botanicals juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, orange and lemon peel, orris root and liquorice root, they also add almond shells, sweet orange, orange blossom, cassia bark, and Buddha’s hand lemon. Buddha’s hand is a variety of citrus fruit from Asia, shaped like a hand with a number of thin tendrils. It is less bitter than a traditional lemon, but with a lot of fragrance which makes it a great addition to cocktails.

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River Test Chalkstream Gold gin

March Craft Gin Club deliveryThis month’s Craft Gin Club is another special addition – luckily not a flavoured gin, but instead an award winning gin featuring a heritage botanical. Sarah and Jon set up The River Test distillery after attending a distilling course in 2017. On this course, they learnt about iStill, an innovative and fully automated still which uses less power than a traditional copper still. The team are based on a site of special scientific interest in Hampshire which means they are responsible for conserving the flora and fauna on their land.

The River Test Chalkstream Gold gin

Their commitment to the environment doesn’t end there. Their bottles are made of 55% recycled glass, and are made here in the UK to reduce their carbon footprint. They also invested in an electric van to carry out their local deliveries! Their original gin uses botanicals from their land – rosemary and bay grow in abundance, alongside their key ingredient: meadowsweet. Their original gin ended up winning Best London Dry Gin in England at the 2020 World Gin Awards, and when Craft Gin Club got in touch, they were up for a new challenge. For this version, they teamed up with a local farmer who introduced them to Maris Otter barley, a variety bred specifically for brewers and distillers. So, how does it taste?

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MOTH Drinks cocktails

MOTH Drinks rangeI think we can all agree the RTD market has exploded in the last few years. As someone that loves a tin of gin on the train after work, I’ve enjoyed seeing the range available grow. What has been missing though, has been *decent* cocktails. Sure, whacking some gin and cheap tonic in a can for £2 a pop is fine, but sometimes it’s been one of those days you want something over 4% ABV. Enter MOTH Drinks. MOTH (aka Mix of Total Happiness) was created by cocktail fiends Rob Wallis and Samuel Hunt. Their aim was to make bar quality, canned cocktails and they have launched with four variations: a margarita, a negroni, an old fashioned, and an espresso martini. Available from Waitrose, I grabbed the first three of these to try – no coffee or caffeine for me – and see how they taste.

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Gŵyr Rhamanta Redcurrant gin

Note: This gin was gifted to me by Sian and Andrew, but as always I’ll let you know what I think.

Gower Rhamanta Redcurrant ginHappy Valentine’s day! Last February, Gower Gin company launched their newest gin through the Craft Gin Club, a gin designed to be shared with the one you love. The Rhamanta gin features pomegranate seeds, red rose petals and pink grapefruit zest. For 2021 we have been treated to a limited edition version of Rhamanta which has been steeped in fresh redcurrants. Redcurrants are sharper than blackberries, but with an equal amount of sweetness. What I really like about the Rhamanta gin is that, despite the botanical list, it isn’t too sweet and brings a good amount of dry, tart citrus, so I think the added redcurrants will ensure it doesn’t become too sugary. As well as the added redcurrants, this is bottled at 40%, instead of 43%, and the label has been redesigned to feature the redcurrant plant. So, how does it compare?

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Shetland Reel Gin online tasting pack

Note: The tasting pack was gifted, but my views of the gin is always independent.

After the success of Shetland Reel gin’s home tasting kit, they have now launched an online tasting kit which allows for six people to try a range of gins over Zoom with a Shetland Reel ambassador.

You can get your hands on an online tasting set from the Shetland Reel website for £78 for six people (aka £13 a head). Make sure you sign up for their newsletter to get 10% off your first purchase and to stay up to date with their new releases.

You can find the Shetland Reel team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I was introduced to Shetland Reel by The Gin Cooperative as part of my support for International Scottish Gin Day, make sure you check them out – and their new Scottish gin shop! Let me know your favourite Scottish gin on Twitter and Instagram.

Shetland Reel Gin – Up Helly Aa 2020

Note: The gins featured below were gifted by Shetland Reel Gin but all opinions are very much my own.

You can see our first set of video tastings here.

Whilst Not Up Helly Aa sold out on pre-order, their 2020 and 2019 gins are still available via the website. Make sure you sign up for their newsletter to get 10% off your first purchase and to stay up to date with their new releases.

You can find the Shetland Reel team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I was introduced to Shetland Reel by The Gin Cooperative as part of my support for International Scottish Gin Day, make sure you check them out – and their new Scottish gin shop! Let me know your favourite Scottish gin on Twitter and Instagram.