It’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.
It’s somehow September, which means it’s time for me to get my quarterly Craft Gin Club box. This month is yet another special edition, this time hailing from Yorkshire’s Otterbeck Distillery. Founded by a group of friends and set up in a formerly derelict cotton mill on their land, their original gin took six months of experimenting to develop. Clearly this is time well spent as the Cotton gin has won a Gold at the 2020 Spirits Business Awards, Bronze at the 2021 IWSC, and Silver at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Since then, they have designed the Cotton Garden gin to reflect the long, sunny September evenings spent outdoors.
They wanted to highlight some of Yorkshires native botanicals that are found in their garden and along hedgerows including elderberry, yarrow, rosemary, sage, thyme and mint. They balance these herbal notes with lemon, orange, cassia and coriander seed and leaf. This is their fifth gin – their original Cotton gin features watercress and hand-foraged spruce, and their collaboration with Sir Tom Moore is inspired by his childhood holidays in the area. Eliza – their custom built still – includes a vapor chamber allowing them to include the more delicate flavours, which would otherwise get lost in the main pot.
Note: I was kindly sent this bottle as part of a collaboration for International Scottish Gin Day, but as always I’ll let you know my real thoughts.
Let’s face it, we’re all swayed by branding. In my opinion, some of the most beautiful bottles on the market come from the Rock Rose team. I love a ceramic bottle, and the detailing on their bottles is exquisite and instantly recognisable. Started by husband and wife team Martin and Claire Murray, they launched for pre-sale in July 2014 and sold out within 48 hours. Now celebrating their 7th birthday, their range includes four core gins, four seasonal gins, a sloe gin, a vodka, and a host of special edition spirits.
Previously I’ve tried their Winter Gin and Pink Grapefruit Old Tom through Ginvent calendars, but today we are drinking the Citrus Coastal gin which was created in partnership with, and launched through, Craft Gin Club in August 2020. It went down so well that they added it to their permanent collection, and is now available to buy as an eco-refill pouch or through their refill club subscription. This gin certainly doesn’t take the “more is less” approach, it is packed with flavour. Botanicals include two types of juniper, bilberries, locally foraged rock rose root, water mint, lemon verbena (from the distillery garden), and kelp foraged from the shore amongst others. After distillation they add a touch of liquorice salt, sourced from Hebridean Mustard Company, to give it some extra zing. Continue reading
Note: I was sent a sample of The Artisan Gin to try, but as always I’ll let you know my honest thoughts. Any links marked [Ad] are affiliate links which means I’ll receive a small commission if you use it to buy anything.
If I asked you what country you associated with gin, what would you say? Today I’m drinking a gin from Croatia which isn’t known for producing gin, despite being a big exporter of juniper. The Artisan Gin is made by Vedran Sisak who wanted to create a London Dry style gin using the flavours of his homeland. He uses 14 hand picked, organic botanicals including lemon and orange peel, elderflower, lavender, olive leaf, almond and Croatian national flower, iris. As the botanicals are grown in small scale family farms, each batch is unique and reliant on that season’s weather and growing conditions. This level of care extends to their branding, with a stunning black opaque bottle. Designed with flowing ridges around the bottle, you just want to reach out and hold it in your hands. To ensure what is inside the bottle is just as good as the outside, Vedran vacuum distils each botanical to ensure only the best flavour makes it into the final mix. So, how does it taste?
Note: I was kindly sent a pouch of 44ºN gin to try from BBBdrinks, but as always I’ll let you know what I think. This blog post also contains affiliate links which are marked by [Ad] and if you purchase the gin through this link, I will receive a small commission.
44ºN gin hails from Côte d’Azur in France and is named after the co-ordinates of their home town. They aimed to create a luxury spirit which reflects the Mediterranean coast, with the bottle is designed to reflect the bright blue colour of the sea as the sun starts to set. Based in a perfumery, they’ve been renovating the building and bringing together traditional distilling and new technology. They distil bitter orange with cade (a juniper variety from the Med), immortelle (a scrub plant which mixes dried fruit with hay), mimosa (no, not the cocktail, instead a sweet plant), verbena (for that lovely herby/citrus note), and Centifolia rose. They describe the taste as an “intriguing journey”, so let’s see what it’s got.
Note: Charlie from BBB Drinks sent me some sample of Inverroche gin, but as always I’ll let you know my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links, marked by (Ad) which means if you click that to buy your bottle of gin I will receive some pennies.
Inverroche gin hails from Still Bay, in the Western Cape of South Africa. Founded by Lorna Scott six years ago, the name comes from “Inver” – Scottish for a confluence of water – and “Roche” – French for rock or stone. Here in Still Bay, they have a rare ecosystem called fynbos which is home to 9,500 species of plant and vegetation. Lorna, during her stint as mayor, made friends with a local botanist and his wife and their knowledge and love for the area led her to experimenting with distilling these local plants. They believe that their gin is a social creation, not just involving their family but also the local community. 70% of their employees are indigenous women, meaning 45 local families benefit from the business. I have three of their gins to try, so let’s get started.
It’s summer! The sun is officially out (at time of writing) and it’s time for June’s Craft Gin Club box. This month we get a special edition gin from Fynoderee (pronounced Fi-nod-er-ee) distillery on the Isle of Man. Based on the island, the name comes from the folklore of Kitty Kerruish. Long story short: Kitty fell in love with Udereek, a fairy (big no no), and to punish them they poisoned Kitty and turned Udereek into a satyr. Half-man and half-goat, he was renamed Fynoderee – Manx for “hairy one”.
Founders Tiffany and Paul Kerruish live outside Glen Auldyn, which is where The Manx Wildlife Trust are reintroducing juniper plants to the island. Recognising the name, Tiffany rediscovered this tale and the shared surnames piqued their interest. They hope to one day use Manx grown juniper for their gin, and for this edition harvest local elderflowers – after first paying their respects to the fairies that live in their roots. They distil this alongside coriander seed, pink grapefruit peel, lemon peel, rosemary, orris root and thyme. Paul himself said that they knew they had the recipe nailed when they first smelt their distillate coming off the still. He describes it as a “conversation starter” so I’m intrigued to give it a taste. Continue reading
If anyone follows me on social media, you might have seen that I’m lucky enough to be friends with Ant (@BrimandTonic), who introduced me to Chew Valley Distillery via our gin swap in December. Through Ant we tried their navy strength, the clementine and cranberry, and the blush which raised money for the Pink Ribbon Foundation. Founder and distiller Joe had a crazy 2020. Pre-covid, he was sat with his Dad looking at the spirits range they stocked in his restaurant and decided they wanted to have a go at making their own gin. They conducted lots of research and reached out to others in the industry. One year on and they have a range of gins which have won a number of awards, including the 2021 Gin Guide Awards winner New Distillery of the Year. As well as producing three core gins (the original, the navy, and the clementine and cranberry) and the charity blush gin, Joe wanted to keep experimenting and decided to make a limited edition gin. By making a small run, he’s able to be flexible with flavour combinations (without the extra expense of branding a new bottle) and try seasonal variations. He also distils on commission, and in doing one such run he came across the blend of pink grapefruit and rosemary. Whilst it wasn’t fully intentional, he liked the result and a few tweaks and 11 botanicals later, here we are. 100 bottles were produced and the online stock sold out within a week.
This 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.