Cotton Garden Gin

September Craft Gin Club boxIt’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.

Cotton Garden ginThey 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.

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Rock Rose Citrus Coastal Edition

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.

Rock Rose Citrus Coastal ginLet’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.

Rock Rose Citrus Coastal gin refillPreviously 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

Meet the makers… Dunnet Bay Distillers

To celebrate their seventh birthday, I had a little chat with the team at Dunnet Bay Distillers to get to know them a bit more…

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The Artisan Gin

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.

The Artisan Gin
Photo courtesy of BBBdrinks

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?

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44ºN gin

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.

44N gin
Photo courtesy of BBBdrinks

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.

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Inverroche gin

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 RangeInverroche 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.

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Fynoderee Elder Shee gin

Fynoderee Elder Shee ginIt’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”.

Craft Gin Club deliveryFounders 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

Chew Valley Grapefruit & Rosemary gin

Chew Valley Grapefruit and Rosemary ginIf 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.

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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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