As you may know from this blog or my social media, I work in central London. Just down the road, in fact, from the City of London distillery. Whilst coronavirus might mean we can’t travel or go anywhere, a fantastic deal online meant I pity-bought myself a bottle of their Authentic gin. The Authentic gin is the first gin the distillery launched back in 2012, becoming the first gin distilled in the city of London. The gin itself is pretty simple with just seven botanicals – classic juniper, coriander seed, angelica root and liquorice root alongside a load of citrus peel (orange, lemon and grapefruit). Distilled in a pair of 200l litre stills named Jennifer and Clarissa (after The Two Fat Ladies), the Authentic gin launched and defined the brand that now boasts an impressive nine gins (in fact, I’ve already reviewed their citrus led Six Bells and the Square Mile gin).
A few weeks ago, I went to the City of London Distillery for one of their distillery tours (which I recommend, it was great fun on a Wednesday night [note: I paid for this myself, it wasn’t gifted]). As we left, obviously I bought myself a bottle of gin. The City of London Distillery opened in 2012 on Bride Lane (literally five minutes from my office) with their traditional London Dry gin which was quickly followed by the Square Mile gin that I am trying today. Since then, they have also launched a Sloe gin, an Old Tom gin, their Christopher Wren gin, and a number of flavoured gin such as the Six Bells gin they launched with Craft Gin Club. The Square Mile gin is distilled with juniper, coriander seeds, fresh orange and lemon amongst others and won a Double Gold Award at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2017 which is a pretty big deal. Bottled at 47.3% ABV, it is also the strongest gin they make (I am slightly surprised they haven’t added a navy strength gin to their family, but hey, there’s still time).
Fifty Pounds gin makes a bold claim. They say they are the “smoothest gin ever”. Distilled in south east London, the award winning gin is made in a small distillery and they triple filter it to achieve this smoothness. You might have seen Fifty Pounds gin before, their distinctive bottle is based on the first gin bottles from the 18th century, labelled with the batch and year it was made – possible due to the producing batches of only 1000 bottles. They keep their recipe secret but are quite open about their botanicals: Croatian juniper, coriander seeds, Spanish orange and lemon peel, and African grains of paradise amongst others. These are placed in the still with their neutral grain spirit and some water, are left to macerate then they gently heat them for the five hour distillation process. This is left for a minimum of three weeks which they say allows the essential oils from the botanicals to blend into the grain spirit. The final step in reaching their 43.5% ABV is to mix it with their neutral grain spirit and some pure water.
Happy Craft Gin Club delivery! And a big cheers to the first in my new home (spoiler alert: buying a house is stressful and expensive). This month’s delivery is yet another exclusive gin, courtesy of the City of London Distillery (which is about 50 feet from my day job just off of Fleet Street by the terrifying junction that is Ludgate Circus.). Alongside the gin, this month we were treated to two Belvoir pressés, a packet of Bahlsen crunchy hazelnut choco moment biscuits, some salt and vinegar London Crisps and a tub of popaballs. The City of London Distillery is so called because, surprise surprise, it is in the heart of the city; they opened their doors in December 2012 and have since gone from strength to strength, winning awards aplenty and now have five gins to their name (with Six Bells becoming their sixth). The focus of this gin is citrus. The usual gin botanicals of juniper, coriander, angelica root and liquorice root are joined by lemon rind, fresh grapefruit and sweet orange to create a big zesty mouthfeel.
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.
Remember the days of premixed drinks? My drink of choice as a teen was Smirnoff Ice, because I was classy. Nowadays, premixed drinks are making a comeback with all of the big brands and supermarkets getting in on the trend with tins of premixed gin and tonic (always go for the M&S pink gin FYI). Entering this market is the London-based collaboration between Sacred gin and BTW tonic. The bottle is certainly distinctive – the colour of BTW tonic comes from the use of natural quinine in their product. Sacred gin comes from the smallest commercial distillery and has quite the extensive range of flavoured gins to its name and this premix highlights the pink grapefruit to add a freshness and a bright citrus flavour.
It’s January! After the madness of Ginvent and general December frivolities, I’ve been taking a bit of time away from the blog to recharge. That and I’ve got a hacking cough. Yay January. But back to the gin. My sister got me a bottle of Hoxton Gin for Christmas. I have to admit, I wasn’t the most thrilled when I opened it because I know the main flavour is coconut which I’m not a fan of, and haven’t heard the best things about it. But it’s also heavy on the grapefruit which I do love. So let’s give it a go. Continue reading
At Imbibe Live I visited the London Distillery Company stand and they invited me to visit them. I had a day off work so thought why not? I met Toby on arrival in one of the many arches less than a mile from London Bridge station and discovered that he’s my kind of man – in that I walk in and he instantly offered me gin. So I started drinking and he started telling me about their gins. When founder Darren Rook had a slightly drunken discussion with former microbrewery owner Nick Taylor, they decided to make a whisky in London. Then, because whisky needs three years to age in barrels, whilst they were waiting for that to mature they thought, hey, let’s make some gin! And so Dodds was born.
It’s Saturday! Day 3 of Ginvent brings us the City of London distillery’s Christopher Wren Londom Dry Gin. City of London distillery produces a range of gins including an Old Tom and a Sloe gin – I’ve heard of them before but never had the chance to try them. London is obviously steeped in history for gin, being home of Mother’s Ruin and the Gin Craze – and indeed inspiring my favourite image of Gin Lane and the crazy drunk mother dropping her baby off a wall. A relatively new distillery, City of London opened in December 2012 and they now have five gins in their arsenal.
It certainly smells zestier than the last two days of gin – sweet orange is a major botanical in this gin which worries me as we all know I hate orange. Fresher than yesterday’s heavy Strane gin, it’s certainly more citrusy than before. Drinking it straight from the glass I pick up the orange straight away, the boy manages to notice is is more citrusy but not specifically orange. It’s alright. I’ll make him do this more often and he’ll learn.
Sticking with the standard Tesco tonic, the orange isn’t as obvious and the flavour becomes more general-citrus – the lemon comes to the front. Boy likes this (probably because he isn’t a freak that hates orange). We both love lemon so this is a good gin.
A 70cl bottle (at 45.3%) is currently £41.95 on Master of Malt. Personally, I’m not convinced I would pay this much for a bottle as it’s not my favourite gin ever, but I’ll certainly keep an eye out in a bar and give it another go.
Welcome to the first day of Ginvent (although this is published late as I stupidly planned to be out on December 1st)! We’re kicking off December with Half Hitch Gin. Camden Lock, 1869, the former home of London’s gin distilleries is the home of Half Hitch. Reinvigorating the London gin scene and reliving history, Half Hitch takes its name from the rope knot used to tie barges to the lock – barges that used to convoy the gin around the world.
As Ginvent only supplies a 30ml sample of gin, the tastings of these gins will be a little different (and as you can see, shorter) than usual. Not wasting time or gin with trying it with water, it’s straight to the gin and tonic.
Straight from the bottle it smells very juniper heavy. Boy joined me for this tasting, he doesn’t drink a lot of gin. “Would it be wrong to say it smells like a sharp tasting haribo?” Brilliant. There’s not enough to mix with water so we’re going for it straight, then with tonic. On the tongue it’s strong and heavy on flavour, quite deep and earthy. Boy says “well, it doesn’t TASTE like sharp tasting haribo”. So there’s that.
With tonic (Tesco Indian tonic) it’s very palatable, or as boy called it “inoffensive”. Not floral, and not citrusy. Very easy to drink and quite light. After the earthy tones from having it straight, I wasn’t expecting it to be this fresh.
A 70cl bottle of the 40% Half Hitch is available on Master of Malt for £39.95 (at time of writing).i think there’s something nice about the simplicity of this gin, and if you’re looking for a better everyday gin than your standard mainstream brands I think this is a good shout.